Unsurprisingly, Thierry Hazard’s words about Eden Hazard and Real Madrid (part many), about Eden “rejecting” a Chelsea contract extension offer, did not pass without causing a fair bit of commotion, which was undoubtedly his intent — even the original story from Belgium called it as him just “feeding the soap opera” — as it appears that he was basically full of it when talking about his son’s contract situation at Chelsea. At least that’s Chelsea’s (more or less) official stance, as seen by matching briefings in all major outlets, including the Telegraph, Guardian, Sky Sports, and so on.
Chelsea have held talks with Hazard over a new contract but are yet to make him a firm offer. There will be more talks and an offer in the New Year. Chelsea are desperate to keep him, but Hazard clearly waiting to see if Real Madrid make a move.— Matt Law (@Matt_Law_DT) December 29, 2017
Chelsea’s response isn’t necessarily the most reassuring (if they were trying to reassure), as it hinges on the technicality that Eden couldn’t have rejected a new contract because no new contract has been offered yet. It’s apparently “too soon”, which sounds terribly lackadaisical as an official club stance — Hazard signed his current deal with a little under 2.5 years left in his first contract, which is just about where he’s at right now in his second. It’s not too soon, it’s exactly the right time for the third! The plan is to apparently resume (begin?) talks in the new year.
Chelsea never make official statements on transfer business -- for obvious competitive, leverage, and liability (in terms of promises made rather than anything legally binding) reasons — so these sorts of filtered media reports are about as close as we’re going to get to one on the Hazard situation. Not ideal, though certainly far less infuriating than the charade of asking Conte about such things in pre-match press conferences. (I had a brief but enlightening and perhaps even useful Twitter exchange with Liam Twomey, who wrote the below-linked ESPN piece, about this frustrating paradigm.)
“My answer is always the same: this is a private conversation between the club and the player, and the agent of the player. I'm proud to have him in my team, in my squad, and I'm very happy to work with him. He's a really good guy and has a lot of space for improvement, to become one of the best players in the world.”
-Antonio Conte; source: ESPN
The amount of time football wastes with sensationalism (and the constant search for sensationalism) like this is staggering — even in this era of fake news, the rumor mill stands unique in its ability to peddle this crap on a daily basis, and without having to do much of the heavy lifting, even. Nowhere else does ‘could’ become ‘will’, ‘interest’ become ‘action’, ‘possibility’ however unlikely become absolute ‘certainty’ as easily and injudiciously as when these words make the transition from page to conscious thought.
And so, Hazard’s situation, his relationship with Chelsea and negotiations over a potential new contract are equally concerning and not concerning, rational and irrational, commonplace and unique. And you get to choose your own adventure picking whatever, wherever, and whoever you want to believe, and acting accordingly.
What’s Hazard’s next adventure? There’s a decent chance not even he knows that with absolute certainty. You never know in football, as they like to say. Eden may in fact be waiting to see if Real make a move (which Chelsea are under no obligation to actual entertain), or he could be using the spectre of that as leverage in contract negotiations. He seems happy enough in the meantime, both on and off the pitch. Chelsea would be foolish to sell, especially at non-stratospheric prices. (And even if we do ... well, the club will go on existing just fine, and would find new stars and heroes.) There is probably little actual reason to be concerned.