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This man Hazard

Zidane believes Hazard can become 20-goal-a-season star for Real Madrid

In Summary

• Zidane feels Hazard is not just someone who plays the final pass so that a team-mate can score.

• If they don’t buy a striker it would mean Karim Benzema continues as the first-choice frontman. 

Chelsea's Eden Hazard races past West Ham's Robert Snodgrass
Chelsea's Eden Hazard races past West Ham's Robert Snodgrass
Image: REUTERS

As Madrid media drooled over Eden Hazard’s first goal at Stamford Bridge on Monday night it was not lost on them that with his double against West Ham he now has 85 Premier League goals—one more than Cristiano Ronaldo managed in England.

Hazard is more likely to inherit the No 10 shirt from Luka Modric than Ronaldo’s old No 7 if he signs for Real Madrid this summer but the hope in the Spanish capital is that just as occurred with Ronaldo – his goal tally will rocket once he leaves the Premier League for La Liga. Ronaldo scored his 84 goals in 196 games. Hazard has taken 240 to net his 85th and it is recognised that he will never be the goal machine Ronaldo became in Spain.

But Zinedine Zidane does feel that the 28-year-old Belgian can become a 20-goal-a-season player, not just someone who plays the final pass so that a team-mate can score.

Real Madrid have been linked with a host of centre-forwards but with top choice Harry Kane out of their reach and Zidane favourite Saido Mane also extremely difficult to get out of Liverpool, the club could avoid signing an out-an-out centre-forward on the understanding that Hazard will help fill the goals deficit created this season by Ronaldo’s departure.

If they don’t buy a striker it would mean Karim Benzema continues as the first-choice front man. The Frenchman is enjoying his best season at the club since he joined in 2009. In what has been a difficult year he has scored 26 goals in all competitions just six from his all-time best since he joined. Raul de Tomas, who is currently out on loan at Rayo Vallecano would come back and play occasionally alongside Beznema.

No Spaniard has scored more in La Liga this season than the 24-year-old and his 13 league goals are giving Madrid minnows Rayo Vallecano a puncher’s chance of staying up. And Hazard’s projected goal contribution would be the insurance behind the risky scheme of not signing a big-name striker. If Modric leaves in the summer — and he has still not signed the new deal that was heralded at the end of last year – then Hazard will take the No 10 shirt.

On the pitch, he will be played on the left of the attacking trio with teenage sensation Vinicius stepping down to become his No 2. The Brazilian has had an inspired first season at Madrid but Zidane feels he has played more than he might otherwise have done because of the crisis and that the pressure should be taken off the 19-year-old going into the new campaign. Vinicius will fly to Brazil this week to model the new Brazil kit.

His prominent role in the Nike promotion points to him being included in Tite’s squad for the 2019 Copa America, providing he can prove his fitness following the ankle injury that sidelined him thee weeks ago. If Vinicius plays in the tournament that gives Zidane further justification for not staring him at the beginning of the new campaign. With the Santiago Bernabeu now half empty for league games and fans turning on supporters Real Madrid are desperate to get their Hazard deal over the line before the end of the season.

But the club are still a long way from agreeing on a price with Chelsea because of several variables that are likely to change the price. Fifa are due to hear Chelsea’s appeal against their ban on registering new players, on April 11 and if, as expect, the game’s global governing body uphold the ban, Chelsea will then appeal to the Court of Arbitration in Sport (CAS). That could see their ban suspended while CAS make their decision.