As Chelsea's stuttering season continues and the prospect of no champions league football looks increasingly likely for next season, will their star player head for the exit door?
A young, confident Eden Hazard arrived in the Premier League as one of the most coveted young players in European football. Having already impressed in the French Ligue 1 with Lille, he was tipped by many to eventually become one of the world's best players.
Since coming to Stamford Bridge, he has not disappointed, scoring 13 goals in his first season at Chelsea. His presence has since been ever growing, winning the PFA Young Player of the Year award in 2014 and was then voted the PFA player of the year in 2015.
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He has become one of the world's best
Now with a Premier League title to his name, his stock has risen rapidly in the last three years. His success of course was not limited to club football, he has been part of a Belgium team that currently sits at the top of the World rankings. If Belgium are to win Euro 2016 as some predict they may have a chance, Hazard will surely have an influential role to play.
All of this has attracted attention from the Real Madrid hierarchy and there seems an inevitability that Los Blancos will eventually come in with an offer. Not only do they see Hazard as a player with enough talent to succeed at the Santiago Bernabeu, but his age is also ideal.
He is now 24, the same age both Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo were when they joined the club, both having been recognised as the best player in the English top flight before making the move to Spain. Real Madrid president Florentino Perez is never deterred by a high asking price and Real will undoubtedly have to get the cheque book out, as he has so willingly done before to secure the Belgian's services.
Zidane full of praise for the Belgian
Perhaps most indicative is Zinedine Zidane's praise of the Chelsea star, with the Real Madrid Castilla coach publicly sharing his admiration for the player, labelling him "spectacular". He has even gone so far as to name him as his third favourite player in the world, behind current Ballon d'Or contenders Lionel Messi and Ronaldo.
Zidane did not explicitly comment on his intention of bringing him to Real, but judging by his words, combined with the current dismal circumstances at Stamford Bridge, it seems highly likely that an offer in the summer transfer window will be made for his services. Former Real president Ramon Calderon has further fuelled speculation after he claimed that Real were "looking at Hazard" and that the club were also interested in the idea of bringing Mourinho back to the club.
The situation at Chelsea suggests that it is even more likely that Hazard will head for the exit door, with the London club now lagging way behind in 16th in the Premier League. The Blues have had a miserable season so far in 2015/16 under Jose Mourinho, a 1-0 defeat at home to Bournemouth being the highlight of an embarrassing campaign, where Hazard has only managed two assists and is yet to score so far.
Managerial situation could impact potential move
Mourinho may well be sacked sooner rather than later and given the dissatisfaction with current Real manager Rafa Benitez, it seems plausible that Mourinho may in fact be called back to the Bernabeu. Surely he would be keen on taking his player with him.
Alternatively, if Benitez stays he would love to reunite with the Belgian. Hazard has worked with Benitez before, enjoying a fine start to life in English football in the 2012/13 season when Benitez took interim charge of Chelsea. Another outside possibility is that Real could take a gamble and promote Zinedine Zidane to the role of first-team coach. With Zidane's known high regard for Hazard would his installment add further fuel to exit speculations about the Chelsea man?
The attraction of the famous white shirt has very often proven too great to refuse, and the added prospect of not playing in the Champions League next season will surely stack the odds against Chelsea keeping their main man. While speculation continues around the possible exit of Ronaldo from Real Madrid, it is quite obvious who Florentino Perez wants the next Galactico to be.
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