In this high stakes game of poker over the future of Eden Hazard, both sides are playing with remarkably open and honest hands. There appears to be very little, if any bluffing going on, which is extraordinary in and of itself already. Chelsea are apparently “pleased” with this aspect of the situation, especially after Thibaut Courtoisssss reneged on his promises.
Hazard laid his cards down on the table this weekend, even as he’s not ready to make a call one way or another. We can see all his aces lined up, the possibility of a royal flush — a “Real” flush, if you will — looming clearly. Don’t worry if this card analogy doesn’t quite add up; the stakes are much more higher than that. It’s his future, his legacy, his dreams, his realities that are at stake. It’s not an easy decision, happy as he may be regardless of the outcome.
Chelsea have responded with further intentions of contract negotiations, and immediately so if Hazard were to make the correct decision. It would certainly appear that both sides are willing to talk seriously at some point at least. When that point might come is unclear, but Matt Law’s latest in the Telegraph sets it at sometime in the new year. That matches with Hazard’s earlier comments about not wanting to talk contract until later this season, once Chelsea’s Champions League future is revealed.
But that’s not the only reason for delay. According to Law’s report, Hazard is simply waiting to see if Real (finally) make a move. They didn’t in the summer, and it’s not a given that they will ever. As pointed out by ESPN’s Liam Twomey, Real haven’t signed a true “Galactico” since 2014 (James Rodriguez) and were highly motivated to sell Cristiano Ronaldo in order to just be able to balance their books this season. Their president has also talked about a renewed emphasis on youth during the last transfer window, and there’s a feeling that if they are to make a big purchase, they’d go for a younger player than Hazard’s soon-to-be 28 years of wear and tear (i.e. Neymar).
If Real don’t come a-knocking, Hazard will sign. If they do, he supposedly won’t. In January, we will have reached the turn. There will only be two possibilities for the river card: Chelsea or Real Madrid. Until then, it’s time to go all-in on a good season.