Eden Hazard was blasted by Chelsea supporters and pundits like Roy Keane after swapping shirts with Angel di Maria at half-time during Chelsea’s crunch Champions League last-16 second leg against Paris Saint-Germain earlier this month.
Some saw it as a clear sign that Hazard wanted to leave Stamford Bridge - and after his comments prior to the first leg, who could blame them? The Belgium international admitted a move to PSG would be difficult to turn down and this, unsurprisingly, irritated fans.
However, two weeks on from Hazard’s faux-pas and Thibaut Courtois, Hazard’s Chelsea and Belgium teammate, has revealed a detail that might make people feel a little more lenient towards the Blues’ underperforming star.
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Courtois has told RTBF, per HLN’s Kristof Terreur, that it was actually Di Maria who asked for Hazard’s shirt - not the other way around.
"Angel di Maria asked for Eden Hazard's shirt,” Chelsea and Belgium’s number one goalkeeper confirmed to reporters.
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This is accompanied by an image which shows Di Maria walking off the pitch with his shirt in his hands, waiting for Hazard to remove his.
Chelsea fans were understandably irritated
Some would argue that this still doesn’t make it okay for Hazard to have swapped shirts with the Argentina international at half-time during such an important match.
Surely he could have waited until after the match or at least until he got into the tunnel, away from the eyes of supporters and cameras?
That Chelsea fans were perturbed to see one of their players - particularly Hazard, who had expressed an interest in joining the French champions weeks earlier - swapping shirts with an opponent at the half-time interval, when their team was losing on aggregate, should have come as no surprise to the Belgian.
Keane: Hazard's shirt swap was 'shocking'
Similarly, it must have come as no surprise to hear that former pros like Keane took a dim view of his decision to accept Di Maria’s offer.
“I’m afraid to comment on this,” the former Manchester United captain told ITV, per Goal. “It’s bad enough at the end of the game, but half-time in a big game, the two guys swapping shirts? It’s shocking.
“What is going through a players mindset. In such a big game, they are thinking about swapping jerseys at half-time? I wouldn’t even bother at the end of the game. Shocking.”
Chelsea fans: were you angry after Eden Hazard swapped shirts with Angel di Maria at half-time? Does Thibaut Courtois’ admission make it slightly more acceptable? Have your say by leaving a comment below.