The stories were no doubt written even before Zinedine Zidane was officially announced as the new Real Madrid boss. So we might as well talk about them for a minute. It's what everyone else is doing.
One man who's done more talking than most is Zidane. In the past few years, he has often talked about his love for Eden Hazard, and in many (professional and fan) circles, the Chelsea man's eventual destination was thus always assumed to be the Galacticos. He does have galactic-sized talent, though he seems to have been sucked into a black hole for much of this season.
Zizou's most recent comments on Eden are from November, when he maintained that he had "no doubts" about Hazard's ability to bounce back from this season's travails. These are now being dragged back into the public consciousness.
"After Messi and Ronaldo, Hazard is my favourite player. It is spectacular to see him play. Do I see him going to Real Madrid? I love the player, that's all I will say"
-Zinedine Zidane; source: Marca
Zidane's fortune-telling abilities will be put to the test given that the kid signed a new long-term contract less than a year ago (and unlike with managers, these are actually honored for more than just a few months in the vast majority of cases), and Hazard himself has often spoken about loving life in London and at Chelsea. And that's before Big Bad Mourinho was sacked, taking the oppressive Shackles of Tracking-back (+1, encumbered) away with him as well.
Such trivial details don't tend to matter when the rumor mill spins into action of course. Especially when there are juicy stories to be had on both sides. Everyone wants to catch the mythical beast, the swap deal. And so, enter Gareth Bale.
The man who hasn't missed a gym day in ten years was apparently "devastated" by the sudden end of La Rafalución and was thus considering a switch back to the Premier League, with Manchester United and Chelsea immediately jumping to the front of the rumor queue. In comments that lend some weight to the rumors about Bale's feelings, Zidane tried to publicly reassure the Welshman.
"I understand that he was annoyed with the departure of Benitez because he was an important coach for him. But he is going to have the same treatment from me as with Rafa. He is important for the squad and fundamental for the team. What he has been doing recently is fantastic. I am going to give him all my affection and support so that he plays well."
-Zinedine Zidane; source: Telegraph
As the stories go, Bale would a perfect piece of the Hazard transfer puzzle, given that Chelsea apparently rate our boy at around £100m. For the whole thing, not just each leg. And with Hazard at just about the lowest ebb of his popularity at Stamford Bridge, if Chelsea were to pursue a (swap) deal, now would probably be the time to do so.
But that would be hasty and silly and sad and I, for one, sure hope we don't do anything so tragic.