A marquee signing reminiscent of the Galactico era, the signing of Eden Hazard was lauded as potentially one of the greatest in the club’s history. The Belgian produced week-in, week-out for Chelsea in the hardest and most competitive league in the world, leaving defenders in his wake as he went about his business with the guile resonant of some of the great players in the league’s history.
Appearance after appearance, assist after assist, completed dribble after completed dribble, and goal after goal – the path to Madrid was a clear one. And when Ronaldo moved on, the Belgian wizard seemed like the perfect replacement coming in off the left wing akin to the great Portuguese master. In an easier, less-competitive, and les physical league – the transition was supposed to be a smooth one. It was far from that.
When he turned up in his first pre-season, he looked a fraction of the athlete he was at Chelsea. The lean, mean athlete was all of a sudden somebody who looked like they were out of shape, physically challenged, and unfit in general. He struggled with his pace, and in a league that is half the pace of the premier league, the Belgian looked off the pace in most games he played in.
Given they were expected to challenge for honours on all fronts – 6/4 joint favourites with Barcelona for the title with most bookies here, the Madristas find themselves of the strong pace set by the relentless and defensively brilliant Atletico Madrid. Hazard has turned out not to be the solution, but the problem.
Struggling with injuries, he has had restricted game time. And to add to his injury woes, the issue of the global Covid-19 outbreak has further stalled his season.
Once a genius, an unplayable one at that, Hazard looks a fraction of his once brilliant self. Age isn’t on his side either – and Madrid fans don’t take poor performances lightly.