Things can change very quickly in football, as the old cliche goes, and we don’t have to look very far for the latest example.
Just a few months ago, Chelsea looked to be knee-deep in crisis. Out of the top-four and the Champions League, palpable discord once again between the head coach and the players, an even deeper divide between the head coach and management, the club’s biggest stars wanting to leave, the owner stopping investment in the club, or worse, wanting to get out ... and that was before Eden Hazard himself confirmed that he was looking for a new challenge and actually thinking of following through on the constant Real Madrid rumors for the first time in his six years at Chelsea.
Meanwhile, Real Madrid were once again Champions of Europe, for the third time in a row in fact, and looking to build from there for the future under Hazard’s idol, Zinedine Zidane.
Neither situation has developed as one might have expected. Over in Spain, Zidane resigned, Cristiano Ronaldo was sold because of discord between him and the president (as well as financial(!) considerations), the team suddenly got old, the new coach turned out to be a lame duck, and Real find themselves in deep trouble in an unthinkable ninth (9th!) position with just four wins after ten games in La Liga. Ninth! Lopetegui went out extra-spectacularly, even, with a Manita in the El Clasico. Real have less than two weeks to figure out what to do with Santiago Solari, to keep him as head coach or hire a new person, who may yet still be Antonio “I managed to somehow not get along with Eden Hazard at the end” Conte.
Meanwhile, Chelsea are unbeaten since a pre-season pseudo friendly, and still not operating anywhere near 100 per cent Sarri-ball.
It’s perhaps unsurprising that Eden Hazard’s choice to agree to stay without causing a problem (unlike a certain international teammate of hisssss) is turning out to be a spectacularly excellent decision. Brother Thorgan Hazard agrees.
“Eden made the right decision to stay at Chelsea. Chelsea weren’t keen on selling him and he had a strong start of the season. Real are in a complex period. They sacked their manager, key players left. They have to rebuild.”
Eden Hazard isn’t looking to rebuild. He’s in his prime at 27 and looking for the last big contract of his career. He wants Champions League glory. And while it’s unlikely that Real finish the season in 9th, just as it’s unlikely that Chelsea finish the season unbeaten, as things stand, there’s little motivation for Eden to change his situation.
“I think Eden will see what happens at the end of the season. I know him. He’s not thinking about a move right now. He will give everything for Chelsea. He doesn’t want a clash with his club either. If he ever leaves, he will play it correctly.”
-Thorgan Hazard; source: HLN via @HLNinEngeland
While obviously Thorgan doesn’t rule out a transfer next summer — would be an impossible promise for him to make anyway — the stars are aligning perfectly for Chelsea to swoop in and sweet-talk Eden into signing that new contract at last. There were reports to that effect a couple weeks ago, that Chelsea would be “prioritizing” these contract talks, but there’s been little obvious movement in that regard.
Matt Law of the Telegraph does report today that the club’s intent remains in place, complete with a raised offer of “close to £400,000-a-week”, but until they actually start talking, that’s exactly the same place as we’ve been for the last 12 months, if not longer.
Get it done.