Is it time to call Hazard a €100m Real Madrid flop?
Real Madrid continued their outstanding run of form on Saturday night with a 2-0 win over Celta Vigo.
It was their seventh win in eight games – the other a draw – a sequence that has seen the Blancos move temporarily to the top of La Liga.
However, one big-name star has played virtually no role in this resurgence.
The Belgian was supposed to be the belated, big-money successor to Cristiano Ronaldo when Madrid splashed out €100 million to sign him from Chelsea.
In his last season at Stamford Bridge, he had contributed a magnificent 16 goals and 15 assists in the league and inspired Chelsea to Europa League glory.
However, Hazard has proved to be anything but a Galactico in his 18 months at the Santiago Bernabeu.
He has scored just two La Liga goals in a Real Madrid shirt from 21 appearances. He has supplied only three assists and none this campaign.
His injury record at Madrid is extremely concerning. He has suffered nine separate injuries. These have included a wide range of problems affecting different muscles, bones and ligaments. He also contracted coronavirus in November.
Set to turn 30 next week, there are legitimate concerns that we have physically seen the best of a player who started his career at a very young age – debuting at 16.
As it stands, Hazard is not a first-team player for Madrid. He has started only three league games this season, the last of these coming in November. Against Celta, he played only the last 16 minutes.
Lucas Vazquez has started 16 games in a row, while Marcos Asensio is slowly getting back to his best having been involved in four of the club’s last five goals. Given the presence also of Vinicius Jr, Rodrygo and the ageless Karim Benzema, there is an abundance of options in attack.
“Hazard is having a hard time,” Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said just over a month ago.
“We are going to help him to get better soon. It is a complicated situation for Eden. He has never been injured in his career and now has many misfortunes.”
Zidane added earlier this week that Hazard needs time to return to his best, having just returned from a muscular injury that kept him out for 30 days.
But will we ever see the real Hazard in a Madrid shirt? And is it time to start labelling the Belgian a €100m flop?