Premier League 2018-19: Should Eden Hazard stay at Chelsea?
Chelsea's main man Eden Hazard has been in the newspapers, being linked to a move to Real Madrid for a long time now. Although Chelsea are going through a tough set of results in the Premier League, losing back-to-back games, Hazard has been outstanding for them.
Despite Chelsea showing no interest in selling the Belgian, Maurizio Sarri has now given Hazard full power to choose whether to stay at London or clinch the move to Madrid.
Hazard will have to make a hard choice at the end of the season.
It's easy to understand why the Chelsea staff, players and fans want him to stay. The 28-year-old has been the driving force for the Blues in recent years. Without him, the team definitely looks weaker.
The quick burst of pace, the ability to ward off players, the exceptional passing and clinical finishing would definitely be hard to replace if he leaves Chelsea.
Under Sarri, a fair share of goals have come from Hazard either being the finisher or the creator. Building a team to compete for the top spots in the Premier League and other competitions without the Belgian would be a Herculean task for any manager.
Although Chelsea have given Hazard the permission to take a decision about his own future, they seem to be keeping players like Callum Hudson-Odoi and Willian in the team, rejecting all transfer bids. This might be an attempt at developing a contingency plan if Hazard leaves. The signing of the American winger Christian Pulisic adds to this idea.
"The situation of Eden is different," Sarri told reporters ahead of Wednesday's Premier League clash at Bournemouth, as reported by Sky Sports
"Eden is 28. If he wants to go, I think he has to go. Of course, I hope the opposite, I hope he wants to stay here. He has the potential to be the best player in Europe at the moment."
For the team, the staff, the players and the fans, Hazard staying might be the best option. But for himself, taking on a new challenge before it's too late would be the best choice.
Hazard is 28 now, and in his prime. Growing up as a Real Madrid fan, he has portrayed his interest towards the Galacticos on several occasions.
In recent years we have seen players dropping out of their top form as soon as they hit 30, and this might be the perfect time for Hazard to move to his dream club. For a world-class player like him, fulfilling his childhood dream of playing for Real Madrid is quite within reach.
With a Premier League top 4 spot in unsure waters for Chelsea, it would be cruel for a player of Hazard's class to not play in the Champions League for two seasons in a row. Any 28-year-old player of his talent would like to showcase their talent in Europe's most elite competition, especially when they are in their prime.
Real Madrid have looked like a different team altogether after the departure of Zinedine Zidane and Cristiano Ronaldo. They haven't been able to replace arguably the best player in the world, and after 21 games, the Galacticos find themselves 10 points behind league leaders Barcelona.
The whole squad have failed to perform at the level they were expected to this season. The new number 7 Mariano Diaz has been suffering from injury problems since his move to Spain, scoring just one goal in 13 appearances for the club.
Bringing in an experienced and well-rounded player like Hazard might help take Madrid to their former glory next season.
The Belgian's current contract expires in the summer of 2020, and with just one year left, this summer would be the best occasion for Real Madrid to seal the transfer at a fair price. Although the winger wouldn't be a cheap signing, he might rejuvenate the Spanish side who look like a mere shadow of the team they were in the past.
For Chelsea, Hazard staying is almost a must if they are to compete in the league and Europe for trophies. Finding a replacement for Hazard would be a hard task, and any player coming in would find it tough to fit in right away.
But from the player's perspective, if he wants to play for Real Madrid, then it might just be too late to wait for another season. And if Chelsea are to not finish in the top 4 this season, leaving the Blues for the Galacticos might be the right choice.