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Why Eden Hazard's Move to Real Madrid is the Club's Most Expensive Mistake
Editor's note: In this piece written by Arinze Esomnofu in Lagos, he believes Real Madrid’s decision to break their transfer record in order to sign Eden Hazard in the summer of 2019 is the club's biggest mistake ever.
Eden Hazard is no doubt enduring the worst spell in his career.
The 32-year-old Belgium international is going through a hellish spell following a big-money summer move to Spanish giants Real Madrid.
The former Red Devils skipper sealed a €100 million move to the Santiago Bernabeu from Chelsea in the summer of 2019 after helping the Blues win their second Europa League title by defeating Arsenal in the final.
Eden Hazard at Chelsea was a different breed
Before Hazard’s move, he was regarded as one of the most feared players in Premier League history and one of the very best the division has ever seen.
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Hazard used to terrify defenders with his explosiveness, ridiculous dribbles, nifty footwork, and pace and finishing.
His astonishing low centre of gravity enabled him to make a fool of nearly every player he’s ever come up against in the league as he was also very decisive for Chelsea for most of his time in West London, putting in top-level performances for the Blues both domestically and in Europe.
His exploits for Chelsea also earned him a place among the best players in the world in the last decade, with the player himself confirming his ambitions to win the highly-coveted Ballon d’Or award - an ambition which was very valid by his standards.
He won the Chelsea player of the year four times between 2013 and 2019, and also won the Premier League Player of the year, and PFA player of the year, amongst a host of other numerous individual awards during his time in England.
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However, for a player who was arguably the best player in English football in the last decade, many still continue to scratch their heads as to why the serial match-winner and leader of Belgium’s golden generation has woefully failed to live up to expectations following his move to the biggest club in world football.
The precarious situation of Hazard’s current state has also begged this question, ‘Was Eden Hazard right to leave Chelsea in the first place?’
Eden Hazard’s Real Madrid arrival: The genesis of a potential promise
In 2019, Hazard signed a contract with the Spanish giants until 30 June 2024 for a reported fee of €100 million, which would eventually rise to a club-record €146.1 million due to additional fees, on a deal worth £400,000 per week.
Back off, a stellar World Cup campaign with Belgium, Hazard had passed the final phase of his Madrid audition by stealing the show for the Red Devils in Russia.
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He captained his nation to a third-place finish at the 2018 showpiece and won the Silver Ball of the tournament after FIFA adjudged him to be the second-best player at the tournament, behind Croatian maestro Luka Modric.
His arrival at Real Madrid came with so much promise, with many Madridstas hoping he would at least attempt to fill the gap left by Cristiano Ronaldo who left the club the previous year.
It would have been bold of anyone to assume that Hazard would replace Ronaldo in Real Madrid, knowing that both players have vastly different characteristics and as such would offer distinct contributions to the team.
"I'm going to try to become the best player in the world, but first I wanted to be in the best team in the world.
"I'm not a Galactico, but I'll try to be, for now, I'm Eden Hazard." he said upon his unveiling as reported on Yahoo Sports.
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But the real shocker is how the former Lille star eventually turned out to be one of the greatest errors in Real Madrid history, having failed to replicate the brilliant spark that saw the Spanish giants work tirelessly to secure his signature.
Eden Hazard: A different breed turned sour
The Eden Hazard who made defences tremble at the mention of his name has now become the definition of a failed transfer, a casualty of a failed promise, and probably one of Florentino Perez’s biggest regrets.
The 32-year-old Belgian has struggled with niggling injuries since joining the club, recording more injuries than goals and more misses than assists.
Since suffering a devastating injury in the Champions League in September 2019,
Hazard has extraordinarily declined after he was forced off injured during a 3-0 group stage defeat to Paris Saint-Germain following a strong tackle by his Belgian teammate Thomas Meunier.
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Initially, it was reported that he suffered a bruised ankle, and was expected to miss just two weeks of action.
However, further tests showed he had sustained a serious hairline crack in his foot, ruling him out for Madrid's next 16 games in all competitions, just when he started to show real promise for his new employers.
Ahead of the 2020-21 campaign, Hazard’s attitude was called into question after infuriating Madrid bosses by turning up to season overweight having put on as much as five kilos.
Although he started the season well, he was eventually ruled out due to further injuries, while seeing Madridstas turn on him with #HazardOut making it into the trend table week in-week out, whether or not he was even on the pitch.
Eden Hazard’s injury timeline
Hazard has managed only seven goals in all competitions for Los Blancos in his three-and-a-half seasons in the Spanish capital.
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Here’s a timeline of the Belgian’s injury woes since joining the Los Blancos in 2019.
Patella tendon irritation: Feb 4, 2023- Unknown (ongoing)
Ankle injury: Jan 21, 2023- Jan 28, 2023 (seven days)
Fissure of the fibula: Mar 25, 2022- May 14, 2022 (50 days)
Abdominal Influenza: Nov 19, 2021- Nov 30, 2021 (11 days)
Muscular problems: Oct 8, 2021- Oct 22, 2021 (14 days)
Hamstring injury: Jun 28, 2021-Aug 12, 2021 (45 days)
Knock: May 21, 2021- May 23, 2021 (two days)
Muscle Injury: Mar 15, 2021- Apr 22, 2021 (38 days)
Muscle Injury: Feb 3, 2021- Mar 12, 2021 (37 days)
Muscle Injury: Nov 28, 2020-Dec 28, 2020 (30 days)
Coronavirus: Nov 7, 2020- Nov 20, 2020 (13 days)
Muscle Injury: Sep 30, 2020- Oct 27, 2020 (27 days)
Knock: Sep 1, 2020- Sep 28, 2020 (27 days)
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Knock: Jun 29, 2020- Jul 9, 2020 (10 days)
Fissure of the fibula: Feb 23, 2020- May 9, 2020 (76 days)
Hairline crack in the foot: Dec 5, 2019- Feb 10, 2020 (67 days)
Bruised Ankle: Nov 27, 2019- Dec 5, 2019 (eight days)
Hamstring Injury: Aug 16, 2019- Sep 10, 2019 (25 days)
However, despite the setbacks, the former Chelsea has constantly stated his determination to succeed at the Santiago Bernabeu.
And while fans have suggested a return to the Premier League and Ligue 1, the former Belgium skipper has also admitted his shortcomings while refusing to accept that his move to Spain was an epic fail.
Recent polls conducted on social media have also seen Hazard sweep home the most votes as the greatest worst-signing of all time.
The Belgian’s dream has since turned into a nightmare and he quickly became Real Madrid’s most expensive mistake.
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Eden Hazard is Real Madrid’s most expensive mistake
Last week, it was reported that Eden Hazard’s transfer surpassed the £90m Real spent on Bale from Tottenham in 2013, due to a number of add-ons being met.
Hazard earns a gross salary estimated to be around a staggering €24 million per year. While this did not get him into Pulse Sports’ richest footballers in the world list, his earnings actually translated to €2 million monthly, €461,538 weekly, €65,753 daily or €2,740 hourly.
He has not played for Carlo Ancelotti's side in over two months but the Belgian intends to see out his contract.
But the problem is while Madrid might appreciate his loyalty to keep wearing the white colours, he is costing the Spanish giants thousands of pounds every hour.
As per Transfermrkt, Hazard is Real Madrid’s most expensive player of all time but after failing to justify his hefty price tag, the Belgian could well be the most expensive mistake for the Los Blancos.
He might not be directly affecting Real Madrid’s success on the pitch as the Merengues have kept on winning Silverware since his arrival, but the club’s hierarchy is more than aware of the need to cut their losses on what is unfortunately a beautiful dream turned hellish nightmare.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Sports Brief.