With reports circulating that Real Madrid are set to make Eden Hazard their latest Galactico signing, champions elect Chelsea may have to prepare for a future without their most prized asset.
More worryingly for Antonio Conte is the possibility of losing two Belgians at once, as the Guardian have reported that the La Liga giants are also considering a bid for Thibaut Courtois.
Hazard moving to Madrid has long been speculated. Even when Chelsea won his signature from Lille in 2012, Los Blancos had shown interest, the renewal of which is no surprise. The tricky playmaker has returned to his scintillating best after difficulties last season and has been integral to the Blues’ Premier League dominance.
Having scored 11, assisted four, and completed 120 take-ons, Hazard has earnt the right to again be considered one of the world’s best players. At just 26 years of age, the Belgian may be part of long-term planning at the Bernabeu, where almost no player, or indeed transfer fee, is off limits.
Courtois meanwhile, has recently stated, as reported by the Telegraph, that he has no intention of leaving London, and will remain a Chelsea player next season. He has become the third Premier League goalkeeper linked with the Spanish league leaders, who are expected to replace Keylor Navas. David De Gea and Hugo Loris are alternative options, with Manchester United’s Spanish goalkeeper considered the first choice target.
Is it likely to happen?
At least one of the players, yes; and it is more likely to be the star playmaker. Even after winning the Premier League and returning to Europe’s top competition, the Londoners may find themselves powerless in keeping Hazard from Madrid. Any bid will no doubt be astronomical, and Los Blancos have players available to sell or swap if required.
Sid Lowe of the Guardian has suggested that Alvaro Morata could be used in part-exchange, with Conte having shown interest last summer and having previously taken the forward to Juventus. It is already believed that Chelsea will be after a new striker regardless of Hazard’s future. Morata’s surplus to requirements status in Spain certainly adds extra intrigue to the possibility of a deal.
Hazard’s quotes from November are also of interest. The Belgian stated that he would only leave Chelsea after winning the league. With this now looking a foregone conclusion, considering the side’s ten-point advantage, Madrid may find it easier than expected to get their man.
It is, however, unlikely that the Blues would sell two of their best players at once. Zinedine Zidane may well find more luck pursuing Tottenham Hotspur or Manchester United for their respective number ones. Chelsea were linked in January with a move for Celtic ‘keeper Craig Gordon, and while this could resurface through Summer, he is intended for backup, not a direct replacement for Courtois.
Feature Image: All rights reserved by Serg Hoholok