Eden Hazard had a dream, and that dream became a reality two years ago. As he always promised, he left Chelsea on a high note, winning the Europa League final, and we wished him all the best of luck in his new home down in sunny Spain.
But his dream has turned out to be a living nightmare, of nearly constant injuries and fitness issues. He’s missed more than half of Real Madrid’s games since the move, having collected just 36 appearances, averaging less than 60 minutes per appearance, while scoring just 4 goals with 7 assists. In fact, he has exactly as many goal contributions as number of injuries, 11 (including a case of COVID-19 as well).
And his latest could be most devastating yet, as he’s likely to go under the knife once again, not only ending his season but missing the European Championships with Belgium this summer. Marca’s report makes this sound like an almost certain outcome, though officially the decision has not been made yet — Real confirming that it’s an injury to the “psoas” (which is a key lower back muscle) after his brief cameo this weekend.
As the sad report details, it’s commonly accepted that Hazard’s issues all stem from his ankle injury way back in November of 2019, which required surgery. He re-injured it soon after returning four months later, and has been stuck in that cycle ever since. He’s even tried to change his running mechanics apparently, but to no avail — and to little impact on the pitch.
Real head coach Zinedine Zidane remains quite confident, in no uncertain terms, that Hazard will find success in Madrid eventually, but after two years of constant injuries, that’s looking less and less likely for a player who’s now over 30 years old and always considered football as a joyful activity rather than something more important than breathing itself (like most other top professionals do).
“He has a long contract with us and when he gets fit, he will play like a motherfucker. I’m very positive and I’d like to speak to our fans and say that when you aren’t 100 percent things feel very complicated, but Hazard will do very well here.”
-Zinedine Zidane; source: Marca
That was Zidane a few days ago. On Monday, he sounded a fair bit less confident, and a bit less colorful as well.
“He won’t be able to play [...] These are things I can’t explain. I want to be positive, so I hope it’s not a big thing. Something is going on because he’s a player who had never had injuries in his career. This is new for him. We’re with him and want him to be well, with everyone here trying to help him. I urge the fans to wait for him. The fans, the club, all the players and the coaching staff want to see him play, but it’s not possible right now.”
“What more am I going to say? [We] just want to help him and we’ll all do that. But, truly, I don’t know if it’ll be with me or with someone else, but what I want and hope, since he has a long contract, is for everyone here to eventually see what a great player Eden Hazard is. Sooner or later he’ll make it. For now, we just need some patience.”
-Zinedine Zidane; source: Managing Madrid
Hazard was remarkably resilient throughout his time in the rough and tumble Premier League, with the one season where he suffered a few important injuries, 2015-16, not coincidentally one of Chelsea’s worst in recent memory.
While his injuries have proved his transfer to Real Madrid one of the best business decisions ever made at Chelsea, it remains incredibly sad to see him suffer so.
Get well soon, Eddie!