The worst kept secret in European soccer is now official as Real Madrid announced the signing of Eden Hazard on Friday, with the Belgian leaving a seven-year Chelsea career behind to join the Spanish giants.
The deal has been spoken about for months, with only one destination ever truly gaining traction in the rumor mill. With Hazard down to the final year of his Blues contract, the Premier League side was unable to turn down Real Madrid’s lucrative offer.
Hazard signs a five-year contract with Real Madrid that will keep him under club control through the summer of 2024 when Hazard is 33 years old. As reported by L’Equipe way back in mid-May, Hazard’s eventual base sale price is said to be in the $113 million range, and while some reports vary on the potential ceiling of the contract should various add-ons trigger, it seems the deal could reach an eventual total of $165 million, or even as high as $191 million as the BBC reports. The Telegraph reports that the bonuses are tied to relatively low thresholds and the Premier League club is “extremely confident they will receive the full” payment of the deal.
Hazard leaves Chelsea having racked up 352 appearances across all competitions, scoring 110 goals and assisting 92. He appeared 245 times in the Premier League, scoring 85 top-flight goals.
“It’s no secret that it was my dream to play for [Real Madrid] since I was a young boy just scoring my first goal,” Hazard said in a lengthy statement posted to social media. “I have tried my very best not to distract myself or the team through this difficult period of speculation and media attention, especially the last 6 months.”
“Leaving Chelsea is the biggest and toughest decision in my career to date. Now it’s in the open I would like to put on record one thing was always clear to me, I have loved every moment at Chelsea and not once did I ever consider, nor would I have left for any other Club. I was only 21 when I joined, so I have grown up as a man and a player with all of you, you have helped me become Captain of the Belgium National team after all. There have of course been tough times, for the team as a whole and for me personally, this is professional football. However, football to me is about having a ball at my feet, playing games and enjoying every moment, we are lucky to play the beautiful game and this is always my advice to those who ask for a coaching tip! Play football and have fun!”
“The memories he leaves us with will not fade,” said Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia. “He provided all who watched Chelsea play with great entertainment and many match-winning contributions, and for that we thank Eden enormously. He has been a model professional throughout his time at the club, a wonderful individual to have around and a joy to work with.”
Hazard is thought to be the cornerstone piece in what is expected to be a summer of heavy spending for Real Madrid as they work to revamp the squad after failing to win a single trophy last season. Zinedine Zidane is back in charge, and his influence will be strong this summer as the club looks to not only add talent but also create space within the squad.