Best of 2023: Five years on from stunning form, is a devastated Eden Hazard finished?

Eden Hazard, the Belgian former Chelsea player, is reported to be considering retirement at the age of 32. Real Madrid is reportedly contemplating ending his contract, which has sparked speculation about Hazard’s future in the game.

Eden Hazard’s talent was undisputed, with notable highlights during his career. He was a candidate for the Ballon d’Or six times in seven years from 2013 to 2019. Furthermore, since leaving Chelsea, no one has matched his scoring record at the London club. His performance at the World Cup in Russia was also admirable, with his speed and genius contributing significantly to the defeat of Brazil in 2018.

However, his stint at Real Madrid doesn’t reflect the glorious past. Not everyone can retain their individual brilliance when they move from being the brightest star to a sky full of brighter stars. Hazard’s performance at Real Madrid could easily be dubbed a massive flop: in his four seasons with the Blancos, Hazard scored a meagre seven goals total.

Last year, writing for Spanish publication “As”, Ruby Arés included Hazard in a list of players who were part of the ‘club of 100 million under a curse’. Arés wrote, “The purchases that have exceeded that figure have not been successful in their teams for various reasons: they have not achieved the purpose for which they were purchased ((which is) winning the much-desired Champions League); they did not adapt to the club’s style of play; they have been conditioned by a rather long series of injuries.” Hazard’s €115m move to Real Madrid certainly didn’t fulfil the purpose of the club winning the coveted Champions League. His struggle to adapt was evident as he stated last year, “I want to prove that my career is not over yet”.

Despite his underwhelming performance, Real Madrid can take solace in the fact that not all big-money signings guarantee success. Barcelona have spent huge sums on Ousmane Dembélé, Philippe Coutinho, and Antoine Griezmann, none of whom have been able to take the team back to the pinnacle of European football. Gareth Bale, on the other hand, proved to be money well spent, with his performances in the Champions League finals confirm that his £101m transfer from Tottenham was worth it.

© Copyright 2024