Hazard signing could be catalyst Real Madrid need
The first thing to say about Eden Hazard’s imminent arrival to the Bernabéu is that the transfer fee still feels like a bit of a bargain at £88.5m. Yes, he was entering the final year of his contract, but it really feels like Real Madrid haven’t overpaid. It takes Los Blancos summer spending to just shy of £190 million, after the arrivals of Éder Militão (£44 million, Porto) and Luka Jovic (£57.7 million, Eintracht Frankfurt).
The pertinent questions, then, for Real Madrid fans: Is the club trying to spend its way out of trouble? The short answer is probably ‘yes’, yet at the same time this does not feel like a return to the Galáctico policy. The Hazard signing does not feel like a luxury signing. Madrid may have coveted the Belgian for a long time and it was the most predictable transfer of the summer, but Hazard will fit nicely into this team. It’s a great opportunity for the player, who, at 28-years-old, should be able to give Madrid something close to his peak years.
More spending on the horizon?
There hasn’t been any indication that Madrid spending is going to stop this summer, with the likes of Paul Pogba, Ferland Mendy and even Kylian Mbappé are linked with the club. The latter should be taken with a pinch of salt, and while the young Frenchman is potentially a future Ballon D’Or winner, it’s not abundantly clear he is the player Madrid need at this time, and he certainly wouldn’t be as cheap as Hazard.
As it stands, Madrid look in pretty good health. Those who enjoy betting on football will be watching how the Hazard transfer impacts Madrid’s odds for next season. On the eve of his arrival, Madrid stand at 8/1 for the Champions League (888sport) and 2/1 to overcome Barcelona (1/2) in La Liga next season. If Hazard hits the ground running at the club, those odds will tighten considerably.
Indeed, the Hazard signing feels like a pivotal moment for Madrid. Inevitable comparisons are drawn to Manchester United. While United’s feels a little deeper than Madrid’s, there was more to the Spanish club’s fall than last season. Like the later years under Ferguson at United, it felt like Madrid were papering over the cracks – even when winning the Champions League in 2017 and 2018. Like, say, United signing Pogba, fans will believe that Hazard can unlock other parts of the team, make fellow players better, but that doesn’t always happen.
Midfield might need a reboot
There will obviously be interest in who leaves Madrid too. The midfield – often Madrid’s forte – was under par last year, with dipped performances from Modric, Casemiro, Kroos (possibly his worst ever season) and Isco. Who goes and who stays? Who has just had a bad season? Getting that base right, and then letting the likes of Hazard and Vinicius Junior work their magic further up the pitch will be key if Madrid want to be the major force again in European football.
However, it keeps going back to one almost irrefutable point: The Hazard signing makes sense for Madrid. It’s not clear yet whether he will become the catalyst that reverses that horrible year (by the standards of Madrid) and brings them back to the very top, but nobody would be surprised if it works out that way. Other things will have to fall into place, but Madrid fans should move the dial of optimism up a couple of notches.