Wednesday 16 October 2019

Real Madrid move for Hazard as Zidane returns to Bernabeu

Zinedine Zidane with his wife Veronique at the Bernabeu last night. Photo: Reuters/Susana Vera
Zinedine Zidane with his wife Veronique at the Bernabeu last night. Photo: Reuters/Susana Vera

Matt Law

Zinedine Zidane made a spectacular return to the Bernabeu yesterday just hours after Real Madrid have made the first move in their bid to sign Eden Hazard by approaching Chelsea about a summer deal.

Zidane has been re-appointed on a contract until 2022 and the decision to replace Santiago Solari with the Frenchman will only increase Hazard's desire to leave Chelsea.

It is understood Real have made a proposal to Chelsea, who value Hazard at £100m despite the fact he will have only 12 months left on his contract at the end of the season.

Hazard is expected to tell Chelsea he wants to join Real and has not given the London club any encouragement that he will sign the contract extension worth well over £300,000-a-week that has been on the table for months.

Complicated

Fifa's refusal to freeze Chelsea's transfer ban during their appeal has complicated matters, but it has not altered Hazard's desire to join Real this summer.

Chelsea still hope to eventually get their ban frozen through the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which would at least allow them to spend the money recouped for Hazard on another big star.

Real's managerial situation had not been considered crucial to their pursuit of Hazard, but Zidane's return is certainly a boost to the La Liga giants.

Zidane was Hazard's hero as he grew up and the 28-year-old wore the World Cup winner's name and number on the back of the France shirt he owned.

Hazard has previously made no secret of his admiration for Zidane, saying: "Everyone knows the respect I have for Zidane as a player, but also as a manager. He was my idol. For sure, to play under Zidane would be a dream."

Zidane recommended Hazard to Real on a number of occasions during his first spell in charge. He said in 2015: "After (Lionel) Messi and (Cristiano) Ronaldo, Hazard is my favourite player. I love watching him because he is a player who creates things and it is often spectacular to see him play."

It is unclear what Zidane's return will mean for Gareth Bale, who has been the target of criticism by Real fans and Spanish media recently.

Bale does not want to quit Real and his wages make it difficult for any English club to afford him, but the Welshman has admitted previously he was never close to Zidane.

He was upset at being left out of the starting line-up for last season's Champions League final, before stepping off the substitutes' bench to score twice in Real's 3-1 victory.

Speaking at a press conference to confirm his return to the club last night, Zidane admitted he had found it hard during his time away.

"It has been difficult from the outside looking in. I am looking forward to working with the players again, to competing again," he said.

"I have been living here in Madrid, doing my things. I have recharged my batteries and I'm ready to coach this great club again."

Zidane dismissed suggestions that he had made the wrong decision when he decided to leave in the summer.

He insisted: "When I left, it was the best decision for everyone. The team and the squad needed a change. There is nothing more. I told you what I thought at the time. Nine months passed and the club called me again."

Resigned

Zidane resigned as Real boss at the end of last season, following a third successive Champions League success and was replaced by Julen Lopetegui, who was fired in October after a disastrous 14 weeks.

Former Real player Santiago Solari was brought in to take his place. But after a string of poor results, including back-to-back defeats to rivals Barcelona and a Champions League exit at the hands of Ajax, Real opted to make another change.

Solari, who made nearly 150 appearances for Real as a player in the early 2000s before returning to the club in 2013 as youth coach, has been offered the chance to stay at the club. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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