REAL MADRID

Mbappé pursuit could spell the end for Eden Hazard

Kylian Mbappé has made it clear that he will expect to operate on the left if he leaves PSG and that would leave Hazard's role in Zidane's side in doubt.

Mbappé pursuit could spell the end for Eden Hazard

Kylian Mbappé has long been the priority target for Real Madrid and the intention of Florentino Pérez and the Bernabéu board is to make their move for the France international this summer before a deal is potentially compromised by the player’s contract situation at PSG. Mbappé has yet to put pen to paper on a new agreement at the Parc des Princes and if he remains reluctant to do so he will be free to talk to other clubs as of January. The Ligue 1 side are unlikely to be willing to let Mbappé run his contract down and leave on a free in 2022 and Madrid are not alone in rubbing their hands together at the prospect of the sporting and economic effects landing the 22-year-old will have. Madrid’s plan is to sign Mbappé as the cornerstone of a new project and have the forward lead the side for the next decade. However, Pérez will be forced to make some tough decisions in order to finance the move and accommodate the Frenchman, not least with regard to Eden Hazard.

The Belgium international arrived at the Bernabéu in 2019 for a fee of €100m, with add-ons making the attacking midfielder the most expensive signing in the club’s history. His remit was a daunting one: to fill the void left by Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure for Juventus. Karim Benzema was installed as the new leader of Madrid’s attack but he needed a foil, much as the Frenchman had provided for Ronaldo during their long Madrid careers side by side. But Hazard has been plagued by injuries, missing over 40 games over the past two seasons and losing confidence and effectiveness as a result, leading in turn to a lack of faith among the board in his ability to recover his Chelsea form and a growing lack of patience from fans.

Mbappé's preferences could leave Hazard in the cold

Madrid’s pursuit of Mbappé could signal the end of Hazard’s Real Madrid career, largely because the PSG forward plays in the same position as the Belgian. Mbappé is disinclined to be moved from his preferred hunting ground on the left of the attack, although has played through the middle for PSG, and has made his feelings plain to Mauricio Pochettino. When the Argentinean arrived at the Parc des Princes he laid out his ideas for tactical alternatives on the front line and was met by Mbappé’s reluctance to move to the right wing. The forward also explained he felt his potential was reduced by playing as a central striker and that his preferred position was on the left.

If he is to move, Mbappé will seek assurances from his suitors that he will be guaranteed to play where he feels most comfortable. Madrid will not refuse their primary target his wishes and that will leave Hazard in a precarious position. The Belgian operates with a certain amount of freedom across the attack but almost invariably favours the left as his starting point. If Mbappé joins Madrid it will oblige Zidane to rejig his attacking options and Hazard to accustom himself to a different role with Vinicius, Rodrygo, Lucas Vázquez and Marco Asensio all vying for the two positions either side of Benzema.