HAZARD’S GALAC­TICO AU­DI­TION

Chelsea’s su­per­star pits his wits against Lionel Messi tonight and it looks like...

Daily Mail - - Champions League - by SAMI MOKBEL

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.

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