Real Madrid have begun their courtship of Chelsea winger Eden Hazard, which promises a nervous summer for Blues fans.
Los Blancos coach Zinedine Zidane has been speaking of his affection for the Belgian whizz, ranking him as one of the world’s elite.
“There are players I keep an eye on and who I like a lot, like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, of course. They are fantastic players, but I like Eden Hazard a lot too. I enjoy everything he does on the pitch.”
The overwhelming 1/10 favourite to claim the PFA Player of the Year extended his Stamford Bridge contract by a whopping five-and-a-half years as recently as February and manager Jose Mourinho has always been insistent that his star man will remain in west London for a long time.
Yet, the fact remains if Hazard wants to realise aspirations of continental glory and Ballon d’Or superstardom, he has to leave Chelsea and if Real’s chat up lines evolve into a full-blown transfer pursuit he can’t spurn the opportunity.
Spanish moves have frequently followed for those to win English football’s most coveted individual award, as the 24-year-old almost certainly will this term.
Across the previous 13 campaigns, the award has been won by a total of ten different players.
Half of these were then recruited by either of La Liga’s kingpins at a later stage of their career, though only one – Luis Suarez last season – moved in the summer that followed them winning the trophy.
Given the length of Hazard’s contract extension, it’ll be unlikely he departs immediately, but a post-2015/16 switch is a distinct possibility and in order to be crowned the world’s finest footballer at some stage, it’s a course of action he must take.
With modern-day Ballon d’Or overlords Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo still in their prime, it’ll be near impossible for the Belgium ace to break their seven-year stranglehold on the golden orb this year, especially as any 2015 switch to the Bernabeu would only be on the back of a Premier League and Capital One Cup triumph.
A season or so on Los Merengues’ books widens Hazard’s potential for success on both continental and domestic fronts, thus broadening his prospects for universal recognition.
Three of the aforementioned PFA-winning quintet went on to win the Champions League after their departures to Spain and should the Chelsea star continue the custom while maintaining his current rate of improvement, he’ll stand a great chance of dethroning Messi and Ronaldo, whose position of prominence will by then be under threat their creeping into the mid-30’s.