Sunday 22 July 2018

Eden Hazard reaffirms loyalties to Chelsea and rejects Real Madrid 'done deal'

Rejuvenating Eden Hazard (pictured) will be one of Antonio Conte's early tasks after taking over at Chelsea
Rejuvenating Eden Hazard (pictured) will be one of Antonio Conte's early tasks after taking over at Chelsea

Jack de Menezes

Eden Hazard has rejected claims he has already agreed a deal to sign for Real Madrid in the summer and says that he is ready to return for Chelsea after missing the last month with injury, although he stopped short of committing his future to the club beyond the end of the season.

Hazard has missed Chelsea’s last four matches due to a hip injury, and he has been repeatedly linked with a move to Real off the back of a season in which he has suffered a dramatic slump in form. Having won the PFA Player of the Year award last season, Hazard has not scored a single goal in the Premier League this season and was criticised by Chelsea fans for being one of the players who underperformed earlier in the season, leading to Jose Mourinho’s dismissal in December.

With Chelsea set to undergo a major squad reconstruction under incoming manager Antonio Conte, Hazard could be one of those heading for the Stamford Bridge exit, but he says his loyalties remain with Chelsea and admitted he could stay for the duration of his contract, which expires in 2020.

“Have I signed for Real? No, that’s not true, I do not know who said that.

“For now, I am at Chelsea. I have a season to finish, and my contract ends in four years. For now, I’m here, and I am, and I want to get back on the field with Chelsea.”

The 25-year-old has previously admitted that he doesn’t know what the future holds in terms of remaining with the outgoing Premier League champions, but his latest comments suggest he could yet remain with the Blues next season.

The Belgium international expressed his long-term desire to play for Real not long after he arrived at Stamford Bridge from Lille in a £32m deal in 2012, and after being billed as a possible rival to the dominance in the Ballon d’Or of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, Hazard appeared destined for big things.

However, Chelsea’s downfall this season coincided with the winger’s own troubled period on the field, and he has since been forced to sit on the sidelines due to the hip injury that, he admits, is still bothering him despite his imminent return.

“I’m fine. I’ve been back training for the last three or four days,” said Hazard.

“Sometimes it does still hurt a little because I try to force it, but I hope to be ready for Chelsea’s next matches.

“Being injured is not cool, but sometimes it allows you to relax — although I prefer to be on the field.

“I am hungry for football, as always, but even more because it’s been a month that I have been on the side.

"I am impatient to come back, play and score.”

Independent News Service

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