Jose Mourinho tells Real Madrid they will need to give £100m for each leg for Eden Hazard
It took José Mourinho a couple of attempts to settle upon a package whose value could, hypothetically, tempt Chelsea into negotiating with Real Madrid for Eden Hazard. "£100m each leg, because he's very young," said Mourinho. Whether or not this was an advance on the £100m "plus one of their best three players" suggested a few moments previously is moot, but the point was clear enough.
Executives from Spain's top two clubs are not known for making casual asides, so when Zinedine Zidane - who now manages Real's B team, Castilla - dropped his admiration for Hazard into an interview there was cause to wonder whether he was the advance party for a summer of attempts to unsettle the player.
Hazard, who will continue his record of starting every Premier League game this season when Chelsea play Arsenal today, signed a new contract in February and Mourinho said there was no chance that his former club had been in touch asking to break it. "If they want him I think I would be the first one to know because my relationship with the president and with the CEO doesn't give space for something to happen behind me," said Mourinho. "I trust them completely. If they want him, they get on the telephone and they call me to tell me they want him. It's the way I feel about president [Florentino] Pérez and Sánchez [Real's director general, José Ángel]."
There seems little prospect of a deal taking place and Mourinho suggested that Hazard is better suited to Chelsea's current mode of operation than a policy such as the galactico approach that has variously been a blessing and a curse in Madrid. "We are not the kind of group that is looking for somebody to be special, for somebody to be more than the others," he said. "This is not our culture. I think [Hazard] doesn't belong to that culture too. He knows that he's a special player for us and that we need him to be decisive, but he's such a normal boy that he doesn't belong to that glamour. He wants to be a special player and a normal person. In football [there is] a lot the culture now of being a special player and a special person. This is not him."
Hazard may have to take heightened responsibility for Chelsea's incursions at the Emirates Stadium, with Loïc Rémy and Diego Costa unlikely to be available and Mourinho considering a call-up for the 17-year-old striker Dominic Solanke. His level of application has been constant despite a relatively stodgy spring from his team, and Mourinho outlined the ways in which he sets an example to those around him.
"In my career I have lost matches because of my best players," he said. "There are players that gave me so many [victories], but I lost matches because of them. Eden is in a state of mind, and a tactical approach, where this season we have won matches because of him and have not lost because of him. He is a talented player that understands what the team needs.
"He's a fantastic boy. A golden boy. The way he behaves, the way he respects people, even the way he respects opponents. I don't think there is one opponent who can say: 'He insulted me, he made fun of me, he played with his shoulder when he was winning 5-0, he did 20 bicycles [lollipops] in front of me'. He doesn't cheat, he doesn't dive. Nothing."
Hazard is the favourite to be named PFA Player of the Year this evening but Mourinho says success for Chelsea, who will need one more win for the title if they beat Arsenal, would be the ultimate reflection of his performances. "What gives you credit is the title. If we win the title he knows that he was fundamental in the team's season. He deserves to be champion," said the Chelsea manager.
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