Eden Hazard has revealed his mind is made up on his future and increased Chelsea fears he will ask for a transfer to Real Madrid.
‘I know what I am going to do,’ said Hazard in an interview recorded in early December and set to be broadcast as part of a documentary on French radio station RMC. ‘I have made a decision.’
Chelsea have made no significant progress in persuading the 28-year-old to sign a lucrative long-term contract which is on offer and are braced for him to tell them he wants to leave.
Chelsea playmaker Eden Hazard has revealed his mind is made up on his future
EDEN HAZARD STATS FOR SEASON
Hazard’s current deal is set to expire next year and there is long-standing interest from Real Madrid, who made an initial approach last year as they searched for a star striker to fill the void left by Cristiano Ronaldo’s move to Juventus.
Chelsea director and transfer supremo Marina Granovskaia insisted he was not for sale at any price but there will be a greater incentive to do business when he is only 12 months from walking away on a free transfer.
Reports from Spain have pitched Hazard as this year’s top target for Real and they are already thought to have held preliminary talks with his representatives.
If they have convinced him to move it will boil down to how much the Spanish club offer.
Blues have made no significant progress in persuading him to sign a lucrative long-term deal
Having seen them sell 33-year-old Ronaldo for £88million, Chelsea will demand more than £100m for Hazard, who is five years younger and frequently pitched into the world’s top five players.
Last summer, having dazzled at the World Cup and helped Belgium to the last four, Hazard teasingly claimed it might be time ‘to discover something different’ in his club football.
Although he did not agitate for a move like Thibaut Courtois, his international team-mate, who failed to report for pre-season training under new Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri.
Unlike Courtois, who was determined to force through his move to Real Madrid last summer, Hazard returned to London and spoke to Sarri who promised him an attacking style of play which would suit his strengths.
Hazard started the campaign in brilliant style with eight goals in his first 10 games but Chelsea have faded and that fresh challenge has become a more attractive proposition.
The Belgian international joined the west London side back in 2012 for a £32m fee from Lille
In October, after a win at Southampton, he admitted to being torn over his next move.
‘Real Madrid is the best club in the world,’ said Hazard. ‘I don’t want to lie, it is my dream since I was a kid. We will see. I don’t want to talk about this every day. I don’t have time, but we will talk about my future soon.
‘In my head, sometimes I wake up in the morning and think I want to go. Sometimes I think I want to stay. It is a hard decision. It is my future. I am 27 and I will turn 28 in January.
‘It is also when you have a dream and you want to make it happen. It is like I have said a lot of times: if I leave I will be happy, I know if I stay I will be happy.’
On Boxing Day, after scoring twice in a win at Watford to take his goal tally to 101 for the club, Hazard said he hoped to go down in Chelsea history with legends such as John Terry, Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba.
He added that would shelve a final decision on his contract until the end of the season.
Last week, manager Maurizio Sarri, said: ‘Eden is 28. If he wants to go, I think he has to go’
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Last week, Sarri, who has faced regular questions about the contract situation, said: ‘Eden is 28. If he wants to go, I think he has to go. Of course, I hope the opposite. I hope he wants to stay here.’
Hazard arrived at Stamford Bridge from Lille in 2012 at a time when Chelsea were European champions.
He has won the Premier League twice, the FA Cup, the League Cup and the Europa League, but Chelsea can no longer count on Champions League status.
For two of the last three years, they have not taken part in the Champions League and have a fight on their hands to return next season.
Sarri’s team are fourth after 25 games with a two-point advantage over resurgent Manchester United and Arsenal a point further back.
Real Madrid have suffered at times in this post-Ronaldo season. Julen Lopetegui was sacked in October after only 138 days in charge but they remain on course for a top-four finish, currently third in La Liga, six points behind leaders Barcelona.