Madrid's top transfer target-Hazard ... but Lopetegui will have a puzzle on his hands


Julen Lopetegui will have a puzzle on his hands if Eden Hazard’s move to Real Madrid is completed.

If the Belgian arrives this summer he could end up playing to the left of Karim Benzema, with Gareth Bale starting on the right of a new look front three but that would once again leave fans’ favouites Marco Asensio and Isco out of the starting XI picture.


The immovable Benzema will be fresh from having had the summer off and will lead the line into his tenth season at the club. Bale is to be given the position he wants to help him finally fill Cristiano Ronaldo’s shooting boots now that the club’s all-time record scorer is no longer at the club.
And that would leave Hazard in his favoured wide left berth cutting on dangerous diagonals.
Isco and Asensio would have to break that front three or find a starting berth in midfield. The problem they have playing deeper is they come up against Toni Kroos and Luka Modric, two specialists who have been essential in Madrid’s domination of the European Cup.
Hazard remains a serious option for Madrid – his recent form has moved him up in the opinions of most supporters and that will count if club president Florentino Perez wants a popular signing to make up for not having snared Neymar this summer.
Hazard’s FA Cup final performance did nothing to dampen Real Madrid’s desire to sign him this summer and he has also been careful not just to walk the walk but to talk the right talk.


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"My father always told me that I’m too selfless and maybe it’s true,’ the Belgian international said in the build up to that Cup Final.
‘I think, in football now, if you want to win something like the Ballon d’Or or the top-scorer [award], you need to be selfish. But I’m not like that, not at all", he told the BBC.
When he spoke to Bein Sports before the World Cup quarter-finals who spoke about it being every players’ dream to play for Madrid and that ambition counting ‘with, or without Zidane.
Madrid like Hazard’s attitude. The contentment to let other stand in the limelight will help him fit in among the likes of Asensio and Isco who are keen for their paths not to be blocked by any new arrival.
‘Coaches have tried to change me, I’ve tried too, but I just can’t,’ he said of his unselfishness.
He was close to Real Madrid In 2017 when there were whispers that he had already been shown around the club’s Valdebebas training ground.
Last summer Kylian Mbappe replaced him as the priority for Real Madrid. And in the last few weeks of Real Madrid’s disastrous league season this year, Neymar’s 2018 arrival has been talked up.
But that deal remains one that will be far easier to complete in 2019 when Madrid understand the player will be able to activate a buy-out clause that will allow him to leave for the same 222m euros Paris Saint Germain paid for him last summer.
Hazard, as a consequence, looks increasingly like Madrid’s top target. For the club’s supporters, who are not unanimously behind Neymar’s arrival, it will be welcomed. He even came second in a poll of who should replace Ronaldo, behind Kylian Mbappe but ahead of Neymar.


Barcelona are aware of Madrid closing in on Hazard and have tried to put a spoke in the wheel by showing interest.
They know that Hazard is a catch, especially in light of their failure to land Antoine Griezmann.
Barcelona defender Thomas Vermaelen certainly knows all about his international team-mate’s ability. When asked about the player’s similarities with Lionel Messi, Hazard told Sportsmail earlier this season: ‘There are [similarities] I think.
‘Of course it is difficult to compare anyone to Messi but they both have that low sense of gravity so they can turn and twist very quickly.
‘They have that element of surprise in their game that you don’t know which way they are going to turn and they can move so quickly.
‘Hazard is not Messi but he’s a world class player.’

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