PETE JENSON: It's now or never for Hazard to save Real Madrid career

PETE JENSON: It’s now or never for Eden Hazard to save his Real Madrid career… he’s come back this summer leaner, fitter and sharper, and fans hope they will now FINALLY see the £128m superstar they thought they were getting from Chelsea

  • Eden Hazard spent the summer with a fitness trainer to fix his off-season issues 
  • The Belgian has been criticised for previously turning up to training overweight 
  • Hazard had surgery in March and that has freed him up to find his full fitness 
  • There is a sense in Madrid that Hazard faces a season to save his Real career 

The images of a lean fit Eden Hazard may have only emerged in recent days but the player himself sensed something was changing last March when a routine operation to remove a metal plate also took a great weight from his shoulders. 

Hazard broke his right ankle two years ago and had the plate fitted to stabilise the injury as it healed. 

It played on his mind, reminding him constantly of the injury and he felt different when doctor Jose Palacios removed it at Madrid’s university hospital just before the end of last season. 

The half hour procedure may have finally fixed the €150million (£128m) player just before his most important season. 

 Eden Hazard has returned for Real Madrid’s pre-season training in his best shape in years

Hazard has long been accused of being overweight since he swapped Chelsea for Los Blancos

This is a World Cup year, and the tournament in Qatar will probably be his last World Cup. He is also now just two years from the end of his contract, at a club which has shown great patience with him – patience he wants to reward. 

In an era of wasteful signings (Philippe Coutinho, Antoine Griezmann, Ousmane Dembele among others) Hazard had been the worst. 

All the others had their moments, not only has Hazard never scored against Barcelona for example, he has never started against them. But this season looks like being different. 

 Having worked with a fitness trainer over the summer he looks a lot leaner and sharper now

 Hazard had a metal plate taken out of his ankle in March and it has made a big difference

Carlo Ancelotti developed Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo Goes last season, and he rebuilt a defence shorn of Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane. 

This season’s challenge is to save Hazard’s Real Madrid career and the player is ready to respond. 

Madrid had considered loaning Hazard out this season but president Florentino Perez wants his biggest signing to work. 

He went to visit Hazard in hospital after the intervention to take out the plate. 

Hazard recovered from his operation quickly last season and was even in with an outside chance of starting the Champions League final against Liverpool. In the end he didn’t but he celebrated the win like someone who knew he would be in Helsinki to play a big part in the Super Cup final against Eintracht Frankfurt. 

The plate and the doubts Hazard had over his full recovery led to him over stressing other parts of his body and picking up muscle injuries that have hampered any attempts at continuity. 

Hazard arrived as a ‘Galactico’-style signing for Real Madrid, joining in a £128million deal

 It has not gone to plan with Hazard lacking form and fitness in the years he has been in Madrid

The finger of blame has often been directed at him. He is the first to admit he is not at the level of other professionals when it comes to conditioning off-season. He is not a thousand sit-ups a day man in the style of Cristiano Ronaldo. 

His attitude has always been that he is best served by completely disconnecting in the summer and if that means returning with a couple of extra kilos then it would soon be worked off, first in training and then playing matches. 

The problem was at Madrid if you are not at your best then you are not in the team so you don’t get those games under your belt to get match fit.

The feeling that with the plate now out Hazard would only have himself to blame if he did not hit the ground running from the start of the season has encouraged him to watch his diet this summer in a way he had not done before. 

Hazard has not had the best of luck at Madrid. He looked close to his best, after turning up five kilos overweight in that first season but a kick from Meunier in a game against PSG in November 2019 was the beginning of his injury hell. 

Supporters have been patient too, unusually so and Hazard’s promise deliver, made in the end of season celebrations last May, were well received. 

 Hazard promised supporters that he would turn a corner after winning the Champions League

 The Belgian was an unused substitute in the Paris final win against Liverpool last season

It now remains to be seen how Ancelotti uses the forward. Hazard could start in the right with Benzema in the centre and Vinicius to the left. Or Madrid could play a 4-2-3-1 with Hazard as the second striker behind Benzema. He could even replace Benzema in some games although what Madrid fans really want to see is the two playing together. 

Hazard’s ankle gave him trouble at Chelsea too but he recovered well enough to have that brilliant final season at the club before moving to Spain. That’s the Hazard Madrid fans want to see. 

‘I’m fed up with having to watch old videos of him in a Chelsea shirt to see the old Hazard’ said celebrity fan Tomas Roncero. 

The Chelsea version of himself is what Hazard wants too. He feels that at long last he is back to the way he was when he left London for Madrid. 




Share this article


Source: Read Full Article