SOCCER | LALIGA

Belgian coach Martinez gives Real Madrid advice on Hazard, discusses Barcelona rumours

Roberto Martinez sees Eden Hazard as a future Ballon d'Or candidate if the Belgian star can recover the performance levels that made him a star at Chelsea.

0
Belgian coach Martinez gives Real Madrid advice on Hazard, discusses Barcelona rumours
JUAN MEDINA REUTERS

Belgium’s Spanish coach Robero Martinez has given a word of -- perhaps obvious -- advice to Real Madrid: to get the best of Eden Hazard, the 30-year-old winger needs to play more games.

Since his arrival at Madrid from Chelsea in the summer of 2019, Hazard has failed to live up to his €100 million price tag, and a constant run of injuries over that time has not helped the Belgian striker’s cause.

In an interview with Spanish radio program El Laguero on Cadena Ser, Martinez also said he sees Hazard as a potential Ballon d’Or candidate in the future if he can leave his injury woes behind him and recover the performance levels that made him a star at Stamford Bridge.

Martinez: Hazard needs to play more at Real Madrid

“Can Hazard fight for the Ballon d'Or in the future? Without a doubt, the first half against France [in the semi-final of the UEFA Nations League last week] gives me even more belief,” said Martinez.

“It's true that his situation is not ideal and what’s happening with him in Spain is very atypical, we’re all worried about it. He’s the kind of player who needs to play a lot of minutes in order to reach his best possible condition, he was perfect from a medical standpoint.

“If he can be at the level he showed during the first 45 minutes against France I’m sure he will give us success,” said Martinez.

Hazard has played just 382 minutes in 8 appearances for Los Blancos this season, registering one assist but he is yet to score a goal. He has started just four of Madrid’s eight LaLiga fixtures this season, none of which he managed to finish as coach Carlo Ancelotti opted to replace him in each of those games.

10 October 2021, Italy, Turin: Belgium's head coach Roberto Martinez gestures during the UEFA Nations League third-place soccer match between Italy and Belgium.

Martinez on Barcelona rumors

The Belgian coach also quashed rumours linking him with the Barcelona coaching job amid reports that the club is seeking a replacement for under-fire coach Ronaldo Koeman following a string of bad results, which have left the Camp Nou outfit toying with Champions League elimination at the group stage and languishing in 9th place in LaLiga.

"It has been a difficult period because it seems that you don't want to answer, but the truth is that they have not contacted me,” said Martinez, one of several candidates that have been identified as possible Koeman replacements, along with Xavi and Andrea Pirlo.

“The rumors with the coaches, you know how they work. It is nothing more than an anecdote that helps me start the day with a smile.”