Real Madrid

Eden Hazard to Real Madrid has become the worst transfer of all time

Tom Gott
Hazard's Real Madrid career is going from bad to worse
Hazard's Real Madrid career is going from bad to worse / Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Eden Hazard's Real Madrid dream has quickly turned into the kind of bed-wetting nightmare that would have a child sprinting to their mummy for help.

Signed from Chelsea for an initial £89m in a deal which could rise as high as £150m, the Belgian is not only yet to get going at the Santiago Bernabeu, but he's yet to get anywhere close.

Four goals and seven assists in 40 appearances, with more injuries than goal contributions across two seasons, is awful. They're not the kind of numbers you might expect from a man billed as one of the best in the world and a 'marquee' successor to Cristiano Ronaldo.

The Belgian - who arrived several kilos overweight - has missed more games than he has played in, which would be concerning enough even if Hazard had joined for free. He's failed to perform on the pitch and has now sent the entire city of Madrid into a frenzy by laughing with his former Chelsea team-mates after they eliminated his beloved Real from the Champions League.

Not only has Hazard failed to play like a nine-figure player, but he's been actively worse than most of those around him, and he's now acting like a player who doesn't really care about that.

Real moved heaven and earth to sign him after he proclaimed that playing at the Bernabeu was his dream, but that determination has not been repaid.

With all these struggles, Hazard is a very strong contender for the worst transfer of all time, but who's fault actually is that?

At one point, Madrid are going to have to accept some responsibility for just how badly this deal has worked out, and it's all because of their ridiculous decision to break the bank to sign him in 2019.

Hazard's injury struggles are bad, but the impact of them is only being felt so strongly because of how expensive he was to sign. He cost £89m upfront, but realistically, his price tag should not have been anywhere close to that.

Real's overspend has ruined Hazard
Real's overspend has ruined Hazard / Soccrates Images/Getty Images

Then 28 years old, Hazard had made it clear he wasn't going to sign a new contract at Chelsea and he was only going to sign for Real. He had 12 months left on his current deal and had the Blues' backs against the wall.

It was Chelsea who were under pressure to sell. The 13-time European champions weren't under pressure to buy.

They could have waited 12 months and would 100% have signed Hazard on a free transfer, but it seems like the powers that be at the Bernabeu forgot about that. Instead they spent big to get an extra year of Hazard. An extra year in which he scored one goal. One.

Chelsea had no right to get a significant fee for Hazard, not least because he was 28 at the time. Sure, he wasn't declining at that point, but he was never going to give Madrid a decade of service. For contrast, Atletico Madrid paid £113m to sign 19-year-old Joao Felix two days earlier, but that wasn't even used as a benchmark.

It feels like their Champions League elimination at the hands of Ajax in March of that year broke Real, who felt the need to respond with a blockbuster signing. They needed to be feared by every team on the planet, and splashing out was the only way to achieve that.

Zidane was desperate to sign Hazard
Zidane was desperate to sign Hazard / Soccrates Images/Getty Images

They settled on Hazard, committing up to £150m in transfer fees and the best part of £400,000-a-week to sign the ageing winger on a five-year contract.

Did Florentino Perez seriously believe he would be worth that money at 33 years old? Did he learn nothing from Gareth Bale?

That's not to doubt Hazard's quality. He was sensational for Chelsea, fully meriting his lofty reputation, and we've seen flashes of the Belgian in Spain that suggest the talent is still there, but he hasn't been able to get going.

While you can argue that Real could never have predicted Hazard's injury struggles - he had just eight injuries in his seven years at Chelsea after all - there should have been far more caution when investing in a player who had spent his entire time in England being kicked from pillar to post by defenders.

While Chelsea fans were devastated to see Hazard go, they were close to throwing parties in the street to celebrate another masterclass from transfer chief Marina Granovskaia, who surely should have been forced to accept a smaller fee. Bayern Munich sold Thiago to Liverpool for less than £30m last summer because they were in the exact same situation. Barcelona let Luis Suarez go for under £6m.

Chelsea should not have been able to get that kind of money
Chelsea should not have been able to get that kind of money / Etsuo Hara/Getty Images

By being so caught up in their own reputation, Real put logic to one side and emptied the bank to sign Hazard, whose legacy is being tarnished because he's being billed as this crocked £150m player that he was never supposed to be.

With the onset of the pandemic-hastened financial crisis in Madrid and across, he will he be a difficult player to sell - as much as the club may want to.

Fans of Real Madrid may argue that Hazard has ruined the club, but truthfully, it's as much Real who have ruined Hazard.

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