Following a stunning last-gasp defeat to Alaves in their most recent outing, Real Madrid’s entourage has gone into overdrive with transfer speculation over the international break as Eden Hazard has fueled the machine. Here, our tactical analysis will use statistics to consider exactly where Chelsea’s forward Hazard could fit into the Real Madrid team if he were to make the move to Madrid.
Time and time again, Hazard has referred back to his supposed dream move, and following Cristiano Ronaldo’s move to Juventus, it looks as though it could be nearer than ever. With Julen Lopetegui seemingly in crisis, a January or summer signing to back him or spark a new era does not look like wild speculation any more. Just where would he fit in though? Here, our tactical analysis will consider the four roles he could occupy.
As Real Madrid’s main man
The Galactico signing, it’s quite clear that there would be potential for Hazard to fill in as the leader in Real Madrid’s attack. With injuries continuing to hit Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema struggling for form, he would be given free reign to walk into the team and make his own spot. That freedom is exactly what Hazard thrives under, dropping deep and then finding gaps in opposition defences where it looks impossible to do so.
His movement is second to none. His 3.46 progressive runs average across his career blows Julen Lopetegui’s current options out of the water when compared with Gareth Bale’s 1.85, Marco Asensio’s 2.65, Karim Benzema’s 1.21, Vinicius Junior’s 2.77 and Mariano Diaz’s 1.35. That is also key to how Hazard drifts in and finds space to convert and score, as he showed as recently as in his last outing for Chelsea against Southampton.
His absence at Chelsea would be severely felt, so it is no surprise that Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck has insisted that the club will try to sign him up to a new contract. Hazard knows how to handle the pressure as the star for both Chelsea, whom he has led to two Premier League titles, and Belgium, and the opportunity to step that up a level to the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu could be an opportunity which is too good to refuse.
As Cristiano Ronaldo’s replacement
What Hazard would bring is unpredictability and clinicalness in front of goal. That is something that has been sorely missing ever since the summer departure of Cristiano Ronaldo. Now at Juventus, Real Madrid’s front line has become less dynamic and struggled, particularly when required to break down deep-lying defences such as against Athletic Club or Atletico Madrid.
Ronaldo’s goal tally has been sorely missed and it is clear that Hazard alone would not be able to replace that. You would have to go back two and a half seasons to match the Ballon d’Or winner’s return in 2017/18, but where Hazard could contribute is in his chance creation alongside his goals, already having notched seven goals this season. Every match, he averages 2.56 shot assists, yet the next best rate in the current Real Madrid squad is Toni Kroos at just 2.00.
Ronaldo’s shoes are yet to be filled in Chamartin and Hazard has the reputation to attempt to fill it. It’s likely that Hazard would feature more as a left-sided player with freedom, drifting into the centre, rather than the central role that was occupied by Cristiano towards the end of his stay, but it is not just tactically where Hazard is up to the task. To date, the pressure has overwhelmed the current options in the squad, but the arrival of Hazard could provide the kind of unpredictability that would keep even the most well organised of defences on their toes throughout.
As the sign that Marco Asensio hasn’t stepped up
Following the closure of the transfer window, many hoped that Marco Asensio would be the man to fill that gap. The young Spaniard had all the requisites as an exciting, attacking player who had seen his game time limited, but he has failed to produce the goods as a regular first team starter since Ronaldo departed and will have left doubts over whether a player like Hazard is needed.
With only one goal, a deflected effort against Espanyol, and two assists, the most recent having come on 1st September against Leganes, his return has not matched up to expectations. Since that last assist, Hazard has recorded seven goals and an assist for Chelsea, showing that he certainly has something to offer, whilst Asensio has managed only seven shots on target.
What’s more, the arrival of Hazard onto the left flank for Los Blancos would free up Gareth Bale to return to his more comfortable position on the right, cutting back inside. Whilst playing alongside Asensio, it is the Mallorca born man who features on the right flank. Not only would Real Madrid be getting a brand new Galactico signing with the addition of Hazard, but they would also be helping to get the best out of Gareth Bale.
As a panic buy
For all of the glamour and desperation following the failure of summer signings and a poor start, any Real Madrid fan getting excited by these rumours must face up to the fact that he would be a panic buy, particularly if he is brought to the Bernabeu in January. The summer arrivals of Mariano Diaz and Vinicius Junior have made little impact in attack, with neither yet to start a game for Real Madrid since joining the club this summer and there is a desire for more that is spreading around the capital.
Having lost their star man, both on and off the field, and then having witnessed what could become a record-breaking goal drought, Florentino Perez is under pressure. With few realistic options on the market and Eden Hazard seemingly desperate to make the move, it may just be a case of the obvious solution. Yet the Belgian’s statistics are not significantly better than the likes of Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema or Mariano Diaz in terms of actual results.
That may not be such a concern in another situation, but if Hazard were to move to Spain, he would do so as a Galactico. A superstar signing expected to stand out above all others and turn his team’s poor form around. There would be no time allowed for him to adapt to the differences of La Liga and Spanish football. Hazard is an excellent player, but is he really one of the best in the world? Is he really good enough to walk straight into the Real Madrid line-up and turn things around? Before anyone can consider where Hazard would fit into Real Madrid’s squad, those in charge must decide if he is really worth it.