Too early to Hazard a guess on Real lure

Eden Hazard fractured his ankle on national duty with Belgium, likely ruling him out of next month's International Champions Cup in Singapore.
Eden Hazard fractured his ankle on national duty with Belgium, likely ruling him out of next month's International Champions Cup in Singapore.PHOTO: REUTERS

Injured Belgian says he would consider offer if the La Liga champions made an approach

LONDON • Eden Hazard, who fractured his right ankle on Sunday, has admitted that he would consider an approach from Spanish champions Real Madrid and that he has yet to begin negotiations with Chelsea about extending his contract at Stamford Bridge.

The Belgian forward requires surgery on his ankle and is likely to be out for two to three months. He is expected to be officially ruled out of next month's International Champions Cup in Singapore.

He still has three years to run on his £200,000-a-week (S$356,000) contract at the English Premier League champions but has been a long-standing target for Real, who won a third Champions League title in four seasons on Saturday with victory over Juventus in Cardiff.

"Of course I would consider it if Madrid made an offer," said Hazard, who only last week pledged his loyalty to the Blues in an interview with The Straits Times.

"I am keen to win trophies. It would be great to win the Champions League.

"But Chelsea's goal is to win the Champions League as well. Honestly, I do not know what will happen.

"I only know that I still have a contract with Chelsea for three seasons and that we just had an amazing 2016-17 campaign.

"We want to continue on this path and want to build on this in the Champions League.

"I am feeling very well at Chelsea. But you never know what will happen. I have not met the board yet to discuss a new deal."

The 26-year-old missed Belgium's friendly with the Czech Republic yesterday after fracturing his ankle during a training session in Tubize.

While no definite time frame has been established by the Belgium Football Association, Hazard will miss a World Cup qualifier against Estonia next week - Belgium are two points clear at the top of Group H - and his absence could essentially have an impact on Chelsea's preparations for the defence of their league title next season.

The 2017-18 season starts in less than 10 weeks, on Aug 12 - but there is a pre-season game against Arsenal on July 22, followed by the ICC in Singapore and the Community Shield match against Arsenal again on Aug 6.

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte reiterated his desire to keep Hazard after he was instrumental in helping the Italian win the title in his first season in England but admitted that his future would depend on "the will of the player".

"I think Eden is very happy to stay in Chelsea, to stay with us and work with us," Conte said.

"I can tell this. But the future? I haven't a crystal ball, no. I think everything is possible. Everything is possible in football and not only for Eden but for every single player.

"You must understand that there are different wills to compare and then to take the decision."

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane has previously expressed his interest in Hazard.

But any move could potentially cost Real a world record fee in excess of the €100 million (S$155 million) Manchester United paid to sign Paul Pogba last summer.

THE GUARDIAN, THE TIMES, LONDON

•Tickets for the International Champions Cup in Singapore are available at sportshubtix.com.sg

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 06, 2017, with the headline 'Too early to Hazard a guess on Real lure'. Print Edition | Subscribe