What Eden Hazard had to say, about himself, is certainly newsworthy during this very slow news week. The 31-year-old Belgian, currently with the national team at the 2022 World Cup, apologized for being a total flop at Real Madrid this far. In an interview with Marca, which was published today, Hazard even went so far as to rate himself a 0/10 for how he has performed overall with the reigning European champions.
After a couple of summer transfer windows in which Hazard was persistently linked with leaving Chelsea and joining Real Madrid, he finally made the switch in 2019, signing a deal until June 2024 for a reported fee of €100 million. With potential add-ons, the fee could rise to €146.1 million, on a salary worth £400,000 per week.
If the performance based incentives were reached, Hazard, the 2014-15 FWA and Premier League Player of the Year, would become the most expensive Real Madrid player of all time. Of course, that hasn’t happened, as his time in the Spanish capital has been riddled with injury.
“[I’d give myself] a zero in terms of playing, because I haven’t played,” Eden Hazard responded, when asked to grade his time thus far with Los Blancos.
“But a 10 in terms of how I feel in this moment with the team. I’m not playing, but being a Real Madrid player was my dream as a kid. I want to play for this club.”
In three and a third seasons at Madrid, he’s made just 29 starts, scored only four goals and registered just six assists in La Liga competition. Obviously, not the return on investment that anyone wanted or expected from Eden Hazard when he he left Stamford Bridge.
“I’m sorry. I’m trying, but … I’m sorry,” he continued. “I have one more year and I have to show [what I can do] but it isn’t easy. I’m not playing, I want to play more. I’m really sorry about what has happened.”
Things have been really tough for him at Madrid, with perhaps the worst low point coming in the spring of 2021, when Chelsea ousted Madrid from the Champions League. Cameras caught him smiling and joking with his former mates, at a time when he should have been disappointed in defeat. This led to speculation that he could leave the club, and those transfer rumors have only ramped up as his form has declined and the missed time, due to injury, piles up.
Eden Hazard ruled the possibility of leaving Los Reyes Del Europa in the January window however.
“In January it’s impossible, because I have my family and I like the city,” Eden Hazard continued.
“But in the summer it’s possible that I leave. I have a year left on my contract and it’s a decision for the club. If the club says ‘Eden, thanks for these four years, but you have to go’ I’ll have to accept it. The first [injury] was after playing against Paris Saint-Germain and the second came almost three months later,” Hazard told Marca.
“They were two fractures… [The next problem] was different, because it was an infection with the metal plate.”
He continued to elaborate on all the injuries that he’s suffered.
“I wanted to have an operation sooner … but the club said ‘It’s impossible, you have to stay calm, we’ve spoken to the doctors, it’s not a problem with the plate.’ But the third year it was the same: injury, injury … I’m not saying it was the fault of the club, the doctor or the operation; I want to say it was many things,” Hazard said.
Regardless of how you feel about this individual footballer, or his clubs, you have to commend him for taking ownership of his failure to deliver. It’s very refreshing, because it’s extremely rare in this day and age, to see a very accomplished, big name superstar athlete like this take accountability.
He simply has not brought home the bacon for Real Madrid, and he is a much bigger and more mature man for speaking up and admitting that.
Eden Hazard and Belgium (this is obviously the last chance for the “Golden Generation” to win something!) are in Group F with Croatia, Canada and Morocco, at the World Cup.
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Paul M. Banks is the Owner/Manager of The Sports Bank and author of “Transatlantic Passage: How the English Premier League Redefined Soccer in America,” as well as “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry.”Follow paulmbanks