Eden Hazard came to Real Madrid as the “Galactico” signing of this summer. After the abysmal season the Spanish club just had, the Belgian was thought to be the long-awaited savior.
With Cristiano Ronaldo leaving, the number ‘7’ was inherited by the always injured Mariano Diaz. Since the Portuguese legend left the Spanish capital, and for the first time in over four decades, Real Madrid fans saw no number 7 flying down the left-wing. Or celebrating a goal at the Bernabeu. An odd event for such a club.
Hazard, always keen on joining ‘Los Blancos’, finally arrived at the capital with the hopes of every Madridista on his shoulders. His presentation was that of a Hollywood star. Second only to Cristiano Ronaldo.
Real Madrid fans and analysts saw in him the key player on which to build Zinedine Zidane’s come back season.
Start with injury
During pre-season, Eden Hazard played most of the preparation games. Mainly down the left-wing, but with a lot of freedom at the front of the attack. His comfort was put forth, obliging the French coach to even place Vinicius Jr down the right, and even think about selling Gareth Bale.
However, the ex-Chelsea player looked out of shape. Fat even according to Spanish media. He barely showed his potential, and only scored one goal against Red Bull Salzburg. A beauty, for that matter.
In the mind of every football fan, players who change clubs, who go to teams with a much bigger dimension than their previous one. They all need a time of adjustment. The trick is, with the likes of Real Madrid or Barcelona, patience takes a second rank. When such teams contract players, it’s for them to deliver, and now.
Hazard for his first month as a Madrid player sustained a muscular injury that got him sidelined for almost a month. He missed the start of La Liga.
The comeback and debut
Thus far it has not been the dream debut for Hazard with his beloved Madrid. His first league game was against Levante in the Bernabeu. A game in which his team was leading by three goals to nil, before finding themselves asking for the hour, after Levante managed to pull back two goals. Hazard played 30 minutes, full of energy with a 90% successful pass rate.
Shortly after that game, Eden Hazard and his teammates suffered a humiliation at the hands of Paris Saint Germain. He was not the worst player on the pitch that night, he even came close to score on a couple of occasions. Nonetheless, he once again failed to be decisive.
The Belgian number 10 played a total of four games in La Liga this far. Without a single goal or assist to his name. He came in as a substitute in one of those games and he was pulled out in the three others.
In the Champions League, it’s more of the same. Two games played, no goals or assists.
It’s true that in modern football we tend to drown ourselves in statistics, and judge player’s performances by the sole number of goals and passes they have made. It’s harsh at times and often ends up underrating players who are so important to the game.
But the truth is, Hazard still has not found his spot in this new Real Madrid. He was handed the keys of the offense line, only to see Karim Benzema still carrying the team on his shoulders.
Hazard was never the goal-scoring machine Real Madrid fans might think he is. His most prolific season dates back to his Ligue 1 days in 2011 with Lille, with 20 goals scored. His most recent one with Chelsea was in the 2016/2017 season, with 16 goals scored.
Hazard is a player of energy, dribbles, speed. He creates space for his teammates, he demolishes the organized lines of his opponents. So far, he is failing to give that impression at least.
In the only few games he had, he barely dribbles past defenders, his pass accuracy is not on point and he almost never shoots on target.
Maybe the season is just starting, but the “courtroom” of the Bernabeu might already sentence their star singing. A stadium that dared to whistle Zidane and Cristiano Ronaldo.