The decline of Eden Hazard following his Galactico move to Real Madrid

Published on 16 October 2023 at 20:00

Real Madrid hailed Chelsea’s talisman, Eden Hazard, as the perfect successor to Cristiano Ronaldo when they bought him for an initial £88m in July 2019.The Madridistas envisaged a ‘garden of Eden’, capturing one of the most captivating attackers in the world who had ignited the Premier League with his trickery for seven seasons. However, in contrast the 32-year-old announced his retirement on Wednesday after a nightmarish four years with the Los Blancos, where he had become a shadow of the superstar Real Madrid signed.

The Belgian had just experienced the season of his career, single-handedly steering Chelsea to UEFA Europa League glory and scoring 21 goals in all competitions.

Although, his fairy-tale move to the Santiago Bernabeu was curtailed by a hamstring injury which sidelined the winger until mid-September in his debut campaign. Upon his arrival he was allegedly five kilograms over weight and later admitted his weight had always fluctuated during pre-season.

This generated instant scepticism around his fitness and commitment, where Madrid fans expected their players to be the finest human specimens in world football. He had joined a club which prided itself on a history of being impeccable from a player’s performance to their appearance and family life. It appeared to the Madrid fans that he was a happy go lucky entertainer who lacked professionalism and his loyalty was instantly questioned. 

This was exacerbated by the inhumane pressure of being Real Madrid’s first Galactico signing in five years. The pressure was suffocating, where Hazard had to endure the excessive high expectations of emulating the recently departed Cristiano Ronaldo – a god in Madrid.

He did not register a goal until his fifth appearance against Granada in La Liga and then suffered a de-habilitating ankle injury in the Champions League against PSG. Fellow Belgian teammate Thomas Meunier had aggravated his previous ankle injury where he had a mental plate inserted back in 2017.

This had de-railed his debut season in Madrid, which dampened his future at the club as this was his impressionable season where Real Madrid were re-building under Zinedine Zidane.

His absence, saw the emergence of wonderkid Vinicius Junior, who became a fan favourite for Los Blancos. Hazard played 26 games in his first season but had struggled to acclimatise to the intensity of Real Madrid’s inescapable winning mentality.

It appeared the Belgian international struggled with sharing the spotlight and being in a dressing room full of clashing ego's like Vinicius Junior and Karim Benzema. This had been unfounded at Chelsea; where the team was built around him and he was almost undroppable, and it was this unorthodox scenario at a club the magnitude of Real Madrid that made it difficult for him to find his rhythm.

The ankle injury appeared the catalyst for his downfall. He was advised to undergo a second operation to replace his damaged mental plate but according to Marca, Real Madrid insisted he had to play on with the pain.

It seemed the years of effortlessly slaloming through defenders had caught up with the one of the Premier League’s most fouled players. He had only ever missed 21 games during his seven years at Chelsea, but missed 78 for Real Madrid.


He was unable to grasp the chance at resurrection in his second season, where he put in anonymous performances and continued to be plagued by injury.

His volatile relationship with the Madridistas was exacerbated following Real Madrid’s exit from the 2020-21 Champions League Quarter Final. Hazard was seen laughing with his former Chelsea teammates after the game, which was chastised on Spanish television as an insensitive and unloyal act.

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By his third season he had become expendable, overshadowed by Real Madrid’s conveyor belt of Brazilian talent like Rodrygo and Vinicius. Real Madrid informed the former Premier League winner he was free to find a new club.

Eventually, in March 2022 he was granted permission to undergo his ankle surgery which had restricted the attacker since his move to Spain. He was unable to play with the same freedom and pace which had been so emblematic of his game during his time with Chelsea.

In his four seasons at Real Madrid, he won one La Liga title, one Champions League title, the Copa Del Rey, SuperCopa, Club World Cup and UEFA Super Cup. However, it was tainted by the capitulation of one of the Premier League’s greatest ever players.

He was always thrust into the spotlight over his commitment and desire, with his £530,000 a week salary driving a wedge between him and the fans. Worldwide football fans will reminisce about his moments of brilliance in a Chelsea shirt and will always speculate on what he could have been at Real Madrid. It was a toxic marriage between the two parties; for Real Madrid Hazard drastically underwhelmed scoring a goal every 11 matches ,while on Hazard's side he faced an uphill battle feeding off scraps with limited opportunity to thrive.


Written by - Lewis Eadie

Twitter - @The_BeautGame1

Instagram - @The_BeautGame1


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