Real Madrid have cooled their interest in both Neymar and Kylian Mbappe and will instead focus on a summer deal for Chelsea’s Eden Hazard.
Hazard will have just one year left on his Chelsea contract this summer and sources have told Standard Sport that Real are now set to make the Belgium forward their priority.
The Spanish side have been interested in 28-year-old Hazard, who will start Chelsea’s must-win League home game against Tottenham on Wednesday, for some time but have never made a concrete bid.
Paris St Germain duo Neymar and Mbappe have long been regarded as Real’s first-choice targets, but the French champions are determined not to lose either of their prized assets and will demand in excess of £200million to allow one of them to leave.
On top of that, each player would demand an enormous salary. Neymar already earns more than £500,000-a-week after tax, while Mbappe is on £160,000-a-week net. Due to his contract situation, Hazard would prove significantly cheaper and while he earns £200,000-a-week before tax at Stamford Bridge, he has made it clear that it is “his dream” to play for Real.
A mass overhaul of Real’s squad is planned following another disappointing domestic campaign. Real are currently nine points behind their fierce rivals Barcelona at the top of La Liga and it looks certain that they will fail to win the title for a sixth time in the last seven years, although they have lifted the Champions League on four occasions since 2014.
With the club looking to buy in a variety of positions, they cannot afford to blow most of their transfer budget on acquiring one of Neymar or Mbappe. As a result, a move for Hazard is proving a lot more attractive as a result and Real are confident he will move to Spain in the close season.
They are already under the impression that Hazard regarded Sunday’s Carabao Cup Final defeat by Manchester City as his last appearance in a domestic Wembley showpiece.
Chelsea have maintained hope throughout this campaign that Hazard could be persuaded to agree new terms, which would see him earn in excess of £300,000-a-week.
But Hazard has shown little interest in having fresh talks. He initially said he would wait until the end of the season before making any further announcements so he could concentrate on his football.
However, in an interview with French radio station RMC earlier this month, Hazard said: “I know what I am going to do. I have made a decision.” His comments were taken as a huge hint that he will be moving to the Bernabeu to join up with Real boss Santiago Solari.
Hazard’s chances of leaving have also increased after Chelsea were hit last week with a two-window transfer ban by FIFA for breaking rules over the signing of foreign minors. Chelsea are appealing against the decision, but Real feel the ban will sow even more seeds of doubts in Hazard’s mind that the west London side can compete for major honours.
The Blues are already in danger of failing to qualify for the Champions League for the third time in four years. Hazard has reached the semi-final of Europe’s premier club competition just once following his £32m switch from Lille in 2012. Chelsea finished 30 points behind champions Manchester City last season and trail Liverpool, who top the Premier League table, by 16 points this term.
Former Chelsea captain John Terry, who played with Hazard for five years, has provided some hope that the Belgian can be persuaded to stay, but suggested missing out on playing in the Champions League next season would be decisive. Speaking to Sky Sports, Terry said: “Any player wants to see security in the manager and the players you bring in. Is Champions League a big thing for him and the football club? Yes, it probably is. Can we do it [qualify for the Champions League]? Yes, we can. If you keep him, you can build a team completely around that guy. He’s up there with [Lionel] Messi and [Cristiano] Ronaldo. He loves London, he loves the football club and wants to stay. He also wants to win trophies. Can he do that at Chelsea? Yes, he can. His family love London. He wants to be a Chelsea player, that’s for sure.”
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