Hazard bids goodbye after sealing Madrid move

MADRID • Eden Hazard has expressed his gratitude to Chelsea after he ended his seven-year stay at the Premier League club to move to Real Madrid for a reported €100 million (S$154.5 million) fee before admitting he had always longed to play for the European giants.

In an official statement published on his social media pages, the Belgian, who penned a five-year deal, said: "To my Chelsea friends and family: You now know I will be joining Real Madrid.

"It's no secret it was my dream to play for them since I was a young boy just scoring my first goal.

"I have tried my very best not to distract myself or the team through this difficult period of speculation and media attention, especially the last six months.

"Leaving Chelsea is the biggest and toughest decision in my career. Now it's in the open, I would like to put on record one thing was always clear to me, I have loved every moment at Chelsea and not once did I ever consider, nor would I have left for any other club.

"Chelsea and especially Chelsea fans will always be special to me and next season, I will look for your results first.

"I hope we are drawn against each other in the Champions League next season and every season so we can meet again."

While the fee was not revealed, Spanish media reported it was the same price Real paid for Wales forward Gareth Bale when he joined from Tottenham in 2013 for £88 million (S$153 million), a staggering amount considering Hazard only had a year left on his contract.

However, Thibaut Courtois felt his signing was a coup and would "make the difference" next season.

Speaking after Belgium beat Kazakhstan 3-0 in their Euro 2020 qualifier on Saturday, the goalkeeper, who started the game alongside forward Hazard and spent four years at Stamford Bridge before moving to Real last summer, said: "It's very nice that we're going to be together.

"He's my friend, I get along very well with him and his family. If he speaks a little Spanish, it will be even better. For Madrid, it's going to be fantastic... I hope we can win many titles next season."

Hazard, 28, will be officially presented at the Santiago Bernabeu on Thursday, subject to completing a medical examination.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 10, 2019, with the headline 'Hazard bids goodbye after sealing Madrid move'. Print Edition | Subscribe