Real Madrid know that planning for life without Cristiano Ronaldo now is completely necessary. The Portuguese forward - and the player many consider to be the world’s best footballer - turns 30 in February, meaning it’s time for the Spanish giants to identify and begin work on signing a long-term replacement. But if reports that they want Chelsea’s Eden Hazard are true, then Real Madrid supporters can rest easy.
Replacing Ronaldo, the two-time Ballon d’Or winner and arguably one of the greatest players of all time, is a nigh-on impossible task. However, the reigning European champions already have the next best thing in the form of Gareth Bale, the most expensive footballer of all time who enjoyed an extraordinary debut season in Spain following his £86 million arrival from Tottenham last summer.
Bale has the world-class talent to fill the void left by Ronaldo when the Portuguese star finally brings an end to his stunning Real Madrid tenure, but Los Blancos require another superstar to help the Wales international in the post-Ronaldo era.
And, right now, there is no better player in world football for Real Madrid to sign than Hazard, who possesses all the tools to become one of the greatest players of his generation.
Time for Hazard to showcase his true ability
Hazard is now 23 and it’s time for him to start showcasing his extraordinary ability on a weekly basis. Ronaldo had already won the first of his Ballon d’Or awards by the same age, having inspired Manchester United to glory in the 2007-08 Champions League, and there’s no reason why the Belgian shouldn’t set his sights on performing similar heroics.
This could - and should - be the season Hazard truly explodes in both the Premier League and Champions League.
He scored 17 goals in 49 appearances for Chelsea last season, but everyone is expecting him to improve on those numbers this term, particularly with the likes of Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa now playing alongside him at Stamford Bridge.
Hazard: Unplayable like Ronaldo
Like Ronaldo, Hazard is unplayable on his day and capable of winning matches single-handedly. He might lack the same physique as the Portugal captain and he’ll never be a threat in the air, but just because he’s a different type of attacking winger doesn’t mean he’s not the perfect replacement for Ronaldo at the Bernabeu.
Hazard relishes the big occasions, he can score goals, possesses fantastic vision and he would sell shirts, which shouldn’t be a significant factor when it comes to signing a new player but is in the mind of Real Madrid president Florentino Perez.
Speculation has intensified over the past week that Ronaldo could return to Manchester United, who would love to re-sign their former superstar, in the not-too distant future. Perhaps even next summer.
Hazard would be an upgrade on Ronaldo next summer
By this point, all going to plan, Hazard should have established his status as one of the Premier League’s best players and a bonafide world-class footballer.
There’s very little English clubs can do when either Real Madrid or Barcelona decide they want a player - the majority of footballers regard a move to the Bernabeu or the Camp Nou as the pinnacle -and Chelsea will be powerless to prevent Hazard from joining Los Blancos if the Belgian turns around and says he wants the move next summer.
Ronaldo’s star will be fading by this point, despite what his €70 million price tag will have people believe, so signing Hazard - a player six years younger and not yet at his peak - would be a fabulous piece of business by Real Madrid.