Following the departure of the great Cristiano Ronaldo in the summer of 2018, Real Madrid had to endure one of their most humiliating campaigns in La Liga and the Champions League last season.
With their main talisman gone, Los Blancos only managed to score 63 goals in the league — their worst performance in the Spanish top-flight in decades.
Two managerial changes and countless criticisms later, club president Florentino Perez finally decided to break the bank and bring in one of Premier League’s brightest stars last summer – Eden Hazard.
Premier League giants Chelsea fought long and hard to keep the player at the club. And when they couldn’t, they forced Real Madrid to spend €100 million to lure the Belgian away to the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.
Real Madrid didn’t mind, of course, as they were finally getting a player worthy of donning the legendary number 7; someone, who could whole-heartedly try to extend the legacy of Raul Gonzales and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Eden Hazard, who’d been nurturing the dream of playing for the All Whites since he discovered the art of football, was also over the moon and could barely wait to take his talents to the Spanish capital.
Luck and fitness
They say it is more difficult to stay on top than to get there, and for the 29-year-old, the saying couldn’t ring truer.
Days after signing for the club of his dreams, Hazard reported for Real Madrid’s pre-season practice.
Visibly overweight and rusty, the Belgian winger failed to make a good first impression on his idol, Zinedine Zidane, who demands his players to be in top physical shape.
Hazard, on the other hand, was struggling to complete the training sessions, let alone finish a match.
Calm as the Frenchman is, he refrained from criticising the player publicly but ordered him to follow a strict regime to get his fitness back.
Sadly, the rigorous training schedule alongside his eagerness to impress ultimately took a toll, sidelining him for a month with a hamstring injury.
After missing the first three La Liga encounters, the former Chelsea man finally made his La Liga debut in a 3-2 win against Levante at the Santiago Bernabeu.
His first start for the Whites came a week later at Sevilla, which resulted in a 1-0 win for the visitors.
Zidane, despite encouraging Hazard in front of the press, decided to bench him in the clash against Osasuna.
In his first-ever Madrid-derby, Hazard got the chance to brighten up his drab start at the Spanish capital, but the left-winger was successfully contained by Diego Simeone’s doggy Atletico Madrid, who didn’t let him have a sniff of Jan Oblak’s goal.
A week later, Hazard scored his first goal for Real Madrid against a hapless Granada.
The Bernabeu acknowledged his ingenious play leading up to the goal and let its admiration known.
He capped off the night by teeing up one of his team-mates, helping the hosts to a 4-2 win.
The man-of-the-match display against Granada has been the highest point of Hazard’s Real Madrid career.
Plagued by injuries, the Belgian ace could only participate in six of the next 19 La Liga fixtures, missing both clashes against Barcelona.
In the Champions League, Eden Hazard managed to participate in five group stage encounters, racking up only an assist against Galatasaray.
Shot at redemption
The Belgium international fractured his right fibula in February, which prompted him to undergo surgery in Dallas.
The subsequent recovery time ruled him out for up to three months, which would have forced him to miss almost all crucial La Liga ties and the Champions League return leg against Manchester City.
However, due to the COVID-19 outbreak, authorities were forced to postpone La Liga and all other major footballing leagues, buying Hazard enough time to be match-fit.
The winger is currently training with his Real Madrid team-mates and is expected to return to action when the second-placed La Liga side resume their campaign on the 14th of June, against Eibar.
Madridistas are yet to see the magnificent left-winger of Chelsea who could, by himself, decide the outcome of a game.
Yes, there have been a few glimpses of brilliance, but they have been few and far between. Real Madrid, who are still looking for a steady source of goals, need Hazard to fire on all cylinders.
They need the Belgian to compliment Karim Benzema on the pitch, tear-up opposition defences with clinical one-twos, and score world-class goals that lead to Los Merengues’ 34th La Liga triumph.
The most demanding club in the world needs their number 7 to lead from the front — a site they are thoroughly accustomed to seeing.
It’s probably too much to ask from a player who is yet to find his feet, but realistic expectations have never been Real Madrid’s forte.