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Eden Hazard says it’s me or the toupée

In so many words

Chelsea v Newcastle United - Premier League Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Eden Hazard gave a phone interview to L’Equipe last week (June 12), quotes from which were published in France over the weekend (June 17) and arrived on English shores Monday morning (June 18). And then they blew up, as such things tend to usually do, even though Eden doesn’t really say anything new with regards to either his situation at Chelsea or his (non-)situation at Real Madrid.

For example, regarding the latter, he says:

“Real Madrid could interest me, everyone knows that. But if tomorrow that club doesn’t want me anymore, we won’t talk about it again. If they want to buy me, they know what they have to do.

”Going there for going there’s sake, no. There has to be a project. I still have a project with Chelsea. If I have a good World Cup, things will be easier.”

Eden Hazard has been linked with Real Madrid since the day he arrived at Chelsea six years ago, and doubly so during Zinedine Zidane’s tenure. Now that Zizou’s out and Eden’s getting older, the narrative is slowly dying out. In fact, this summer is probably the last big hurrah, this contract he’s about to sign at either Chelsea or Real the last big contract of his career.

But Hazard has recently recommitted himself to Chelsea even without the Champions League, and while it’s unclear what a “good World Cup” will make easier (staying or going?), there’s nothing in there that we don’t already know or understand. In fact, it would appear that Real Madrid have made no moves (“If they want to buy me, they know what they have to do”) and the story only has legs because of the vague idea that they might yet make one (“if tomorrow that club doesn’t want me anymore, we won’t talk about it again”).

On the flipside of the issue is Hazard’s situation at Chelsea, both in terms of his contract, which is on the agenda (again) for after the World Cup and in terms of the coaching situation. Like Mourinho, Conte built a system that required very little work off the ball from Hazard, but the three-time Chelsea Player of the Year has still been hinting as a bit of displeasure regarding the supposed “tactical straitjacket” he’s been made to wear. That hint was followed up by plenty of rumors regarding Hazard’s future being a condition of Conte’s employment, and Hazard himself confirmed last week that the identity of next year’s coach actually matters. On the phone to L’Equipe, he doubled down on that condition, which also includes Chelsea improving the squad (like Conte also wanted all season and like Hazard said more than once over the past month as well).

“If I stay, it’s for the team to be better than it was than in the season we have just gone through. I don’t want to stay for it to be worse. I have won everything in London other than the Champions League. If I’m in this position in my career, it’s thanks to Chelsea.

”It would be too easy to say I want to leave because I’ve done everything here. That’s why, above all else, I would like to know what will happen at the club next year. I am waiting to see if the coach stays or leaves.”

-Eden Hazard; source: L’Equipe via ESPN

That last line has been interpreted to mean that Chelsea basically have to choose between Hazard or Conte. Since the latter’s pretty much gone anyway, this really shouldn’t be a massive sticking point, but until contracts are signed and ripped up and announcements are made, it will be a consideration.

P.S.: Is there a possible future where both Hazard and Conte stay? Unlikely, to say the least, though Eden’s quotes don’t entirely rule it out either. Selling Hazard and rebuilding with Pulisic and Chucky Lozano would be a fun Football Manager save though.

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