HAZARD’S GALACTICO AUDITION
Chelsea’s superstar pits his wits against Lionel Messi tonight and it looks like...
REAL MAdrid fancy Eden Hazard. in private, Hazard would confess to fancying real Madrid. Who wouldn’t?
Transfers, of course, are seldom as easy as that, particularly one of this magnitude.
There are plenty of hoops to be jumped through before Hazard can even contemplate becoming a Galactico.
But a spellbinding performance in the Champions League last 16 tonight against real’s fiercest rivals may just convince the Bernabeu money men that Hazard is worth the £200million fee it would take to prise him from Stamford Bridge this summer.
Upstaging Lionel Messi is a daunting task, however, even if the Argentine has never scored against Chelsea. if Messi plays well, Barcelona win.
But if Hazard can inspire Chelsea to victory, the reverberations will be felt 780 miles away in the Spanish capital. ‘it’s good to be compared with the greatest ever, Messi or Cristiano ronaldo,’ Hazard said last night. ‘But i’m completely different. We play in a different league. i try to do my job and try to reach their level, because they are the best in the world.
‘When we play these kinds of games, we need to perform. if you want to be one of the best, you have to play well in the big games. This is a big game.
‘Last year we didn’t play in the Champions League, but this year we are back and i played a few good games: mes: Atletico Madrid r id away, roma, here re against Atletico.
‘ You want to shine when you play the best in the world. if i want to reach that level, i need to play a great game.’
Hazard breezed d into the drake Suite uite yesterday knowing wing full well what wasas coming. comli Spanish journalists,t and d English journalists for that matter, had one question in mind.
And when it arrived, Hazard ducked it, saying: ‘How do i see my long-term future? i see the game tomorrow. i’m happy here, my family are happy here.
‘Now i’m just focused on the game to the end of the season. i don’t think much about the future because you never know what happens in the future.’ it was hardly a statement to fill Chelsea with confidence that he will sign a new contract this summer. Hazard’s Chelsea career reaches a crossroads at the end of the season as he enters the final two years of his contract. Talks over an extension, worth about £300,000 a week, are under way. But asa it stands there is no agreement.a ThThere is unlikely to be one either until thwc the Belgium forward gets a clearer answer from real over their long-standing interest. The biggest factor could be whether Zinedine ZidZidane remains in chacharge at real beyonbeyond the summer. The ununder- pressure coachh isi understood to be driving real’s interest in Hazard, so if Zidane leaves it would cast doubt over a summer swoop. Sportsmail understands there are reservations over Hazard’s commercial value within the Bernabeu hierarchy as the club look for a long-term poster boy to take the baton from ronaldo, who is now 33. in that sense, a real move for Paris Saint- Germain’s former Barcelona star Neymar — a ready-made global icon — makes significantly more sense for the Spanish giants.
At the age of 27 it seems like it is now or never if Hazard is to move to real.
The ship will surely have sailed if it doesn’t happen this summer.
And if he does not sign a new contract before the summer transfer window closes, then Chelsea may be forced into selling to prevent his contract ticking down.
All ifs, buts and maybes. Barcelona midfielder ivan rakitic is already convinced of the quality of an opponent he will face tonight.
‘We need to be ready to stop him,’ said rakitic.
‘ He’s really fast, dangerous one on one. We need to be ready for him and the whole team. For me, Hazard is world-class.’
But if real still need convincing, a Hazard supershow tonight could make their minds up for them.