Like the itch you can’t scratch, or worse, the itch you scratch and scratch and scratch to no avail, the Real Madrid story has been a constant feature of Eden Hazard’s five-year Chelsea career. From day one we were told that Chelsea were just his stepping stone to the Spanish giants. Slight detour to PSG-land aside, the rumor mill has had it written in stone that Hazard will transfer to Real Madrid today, tomorrow, or the day after.
As with an annoying itch, the best thing would be to leave it alone and ignore all this nonsense. But if we don’t scratch it, others will — Hazard doesn’t ever volunteer quotes about Real Madrid; he’s simply answering the incessant and repetitive questions from reporters (see example below) — so perhaps the best thing to do is to try apply a soothing ointment of logic and common sense. That may not make the constant itch go away any faster, or at all in fact, but at least it should make life bearable.
Following recent quotes published in The New Straits Times, wherein his “couple years” more at Chelsea was taken far too literally as if he were a native English speaker in full command of idioms as well as specific understanding that couple means two but is often used in a more generic context to simply mean more than one, Hazard gave an interview to HLN’s Niels Poissonnier. Poissonnier’s questions were all the standard fare: Conte, Chelsea future, Real rumors. Of the seven questions asked, four were specifically about Real Madrid.
The full transcript of the interview — well, second half; there were also questions about Belgium’s match against the Czechs, which Hazard will now miss thanks to the fractured ankle he suffered in training on Sunday — was helpfully translated by Kristof Terreur. Here’s a transcription of the text from the picture in his tweet, with my comments.
What does it feel like to work under Antonio Conte?
“We had a great season under Conte. We want to continue like that, certainly now that we’ll be playing in the Champions League too. We know it’s hard to win two consecutive titles in England, but we’re going to try. It’s a pleasure to work with Conte.”
Eden saying all the right things. Great season, just short of fantastic. Now for bigger and better things next season.
Don’t you have to join Real Madrid to win the Champions League?
(smiles) “If you look at the last two seasons, it looks easy for them. The Champions League is a particularly difficult competition to win. Real Madrid were stronger than anyone in the last two or three seasons. But that doesn’t mean it’ll be the same in the next five years. The Champions League is a goal for me for next season. I’ve never won it and I’m always trying to improve. That’s my main goal: always do better. We’ll see where we get.”
Sneaky leading question based on a false premise. After all, Chelsea are one of four teams to win the Champions League in the last six seasons. Hazard’s answer sidesteps most of the sneakiness however, so well done there. I’m assuming the smile was a sign of catching on quickly to the theme of the interview. I can’t even begin to imagine how annoying these sorts of interview must get for professional athletes. (Yeah, it’s part of their job, but still...)
Are you going to think about your future after the international games?
“When I’m on holiday, I only think about enjoying myself. Not about football, not about my future. I just want to spend time with my family and enjoy myself.”
Hazard ignores the question, which is a dangerous tactic that can lead to headlines like “Hazard does not deny thinking about his future”, etc.
Is there a chance you’ll be leaving Chelsea?
“In football you never know, but at the moment it’s not something that’s on my mind. I’m a Chelsea player. I still have a contract for three years. We’ll see”
Interviewer doubles down on the previous question, Hazard comes back as strongly as one would expect. Undoubtedly, this answer will be largely ignored in future reporting of this story as it’s not very exciting (for non-Chelsea fans). For us, on the other hand, this is all we need to know. He has three years on his contract and he’s not thinking about leaving. The end.
Have Chelsea already offered you a new deal? There’s a lot of talk about Real Madrid.
“They (Chelsea) haven’t offered me anything yet, but it could happen. We’ll see after my holidays. The last few years everyone was talking about PSG, this year it’s about Real Madrid, next year it’ll be another club.”
Getting desperate for something juicy to report. Hazard still not budging.
But if Real Madrid offer you a deal, would you consider it?
“Of course I’ll listen. We all have dreams. It could be Spain, it could be staying with Chelsea. I’m good where I am now. I think I can stay at Chelsea for many years. But it’s not something I’m thinking about right now. We’ll see.”
And there’s the money shot. Hazard’s no fool to outright refuse this hypothetical Real Madrid scenario, but he follows that up with I’m good at Chelsea and I think I stay for many years. What more could we want?
Didn’t you think on Saturday night: if I could ever be playing in that Real team...?
“But if I would ever join Real Madrid, I could end up on the bench too. I just want the best solution for myself.”
One more embarrassing attempt from the interviewer to get a usable quote, and Hazard gives him a carefree, self-deprecating answer in true Hazardian style. Well done, Eden.
So after reading that, does it sound like Hazard is anywhere near joining Real Madrid? The man seems as happy as a clam at Chelsea these days. Long may that continue.
“I like it here because it’s a family club. I have a lot of friends and we all talk to each other. In terms of games and experience I’m one of the oldest players and that’s good. This is my second home and I’m happy at Chelsea. I just want to keep going, maintain this intensity and continue to win trophies.”
-Eden Hazard; source: Chelsea FC