Hazard's injury crisis

In seven years at Chelsea, Eden Hazard only missed 20 games. Since joining Real Madrid for €100 million in 2019, he has missed 23 games.

On Wednesday night, Eden Hazard was in the stands at the Estadio Alfredo Di Stéfano watching his team play against Real Valladolid. On the morning of the match, he became the main talking point of the day. He got injured again, this time with a muscle injury that the club has not identified and that will keep him on the sidelines for another month. Hazard, hidden behind a dark cap and the mandatory mask, appeared relaxed alongside other members of the Real Madrid squad. At half-time, Florentino Pérez approached him to see how the club's latest world-class signing was at first-hand. At this point, the alarm bells are ringing at the Santiago Bernabéu due to the situation that the Belgian finds himself in.

1228811822MADRID, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 30: Eden Hazard of Real Madrid during the La Liga Santander match between Real Madrid v Real Valladolid at the Alfredo di Stefano Stadium on September 30, 2020 in Madrid Spain (Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images)

It seems that a curse has fallen on Hazard like it has happened before with other Madridistas such as Prosinecki, Woodgate, Robben or Bale. The Belgian only missed 20 games at Chelsea in seven seasons. In his final two seasons, he was out for just three games. On the other hand, in his first season and the start of the second at Madrid (one year and two months) he has been out through injury for 23 games. But beyond that bad luck, it worries the Madrid hierarchy that the problem will persist. The Belgian's injury could even change Jovic's transfer plans in the last few days of the transfer window, as Zidane wanted Hazard as Benzema's attacking partner to play with two forwards and Jovic (as he has done against Real Betis and Valladolid) can play that role.

The tackle from Meunier on November 26 in a 2-2 draw against PSG sparked the trouble for the 29-year-old, who was signed by Madrid for 100 million euros plus 40 million in variables when he only had one year left on his contract at Chelsea. But before that game, Hazard had already missed five of 13 league games. He arrived in the pre-season visibly overweight, something that the player admitted himself. "On a bad day I weigh 77 kilos, but this summer I reached 80 and lost it in ten days," Hazard said in L'Equipe. The former Chelsea forward earns 15 million euros net per season, the same salary cap that Gareth Bale had and where Sergio Ramos currently sits.

The problem

Beyond the injury risk going forward, Hazard's problem, according to the club's doctors, is that he has slightly changed his landing position on his weaker foot due to the discomfort he continues to feel in his ankle when he applies pressure to it. After two spells out due to the damage done to his right ankle, Hazard decided to undergo surgery with the idea of returning fully fit for the European Championships that were to be played last summer, but were subsequently postponed due to the pandemic. He had the surgery in Dallas on March 5. The person in charge of carrying out the operation was the highly-respected doctor Eugene Curry. The key part of the operation was in the titanium plate that Hazard has worn since June 2017, when he was operated on for a fractured ankle. That first surgery was a success - he only missed a handle of games with Chelsea.

Now Hazard's situation begins to be surrounded by mystery. He trained normally before Wednesday's win over Valladolid, and Zidane called him into his squad, having been left out for the trip to Betis last weekend. However, it was not until the next day that the Belgian revealed he was injured, a muscular injury this time. The reaction of the club has been swift, there is no rush for his comeback. He will not be rushed back for El Clásico on October 25. Zidane knows that it's a long season and prefers to have a fully fit and lean Hazard, full of confidence and without any discomfort in his ankle.