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Eden Hazard

'Hazard was like a God at Chelsea' – Real Madrid flop told transfer was 'big mistake' as Geremi reflects on €100m move

17:00 GMT+3 07/01/2022
Eden Hazard Chelsea 2019 Europa League final
A 2019 switch to Spain has not worked out as planned for a Belgian playmaker that is now seeing a Santiago Bernabeu exit speculated on

Eden Hazard has been told that his decision to make a €100 million (£84m/$113m) move to Real Madrid in 2019 was a “big mistake”, with former Blancos and Chelsea midfielder Geremi pointing out that the Belgian was “almost like a God” at Stamford Bridge.

Having starred for the Blues across seven seasons, claiming two Premier League titles while registering 110 goals through 352 appearances, one of world football’s top creative talents decided to head for Spain after achieving all that he could in England.

That dream switch quickly became a nightmare, with struggles for form and fitness blighting Hazard’s time at Santiago Bernabeu, and – amid talk of another transfer being on the cards – Geremi believes the attacker, who celebrated his 31st birthday on January 7, should never have been allowed to leave west London.

Why has Hazard flopped at Real Madrid?

When that question was put to Geremi, the Cameroonian – speaking on behalf of Genting Casino – told GOAL: “A very good question! This is why it is sometimes difficult to understand football. Eden Hazard at Chelsea was brilliant, fantastic. For me, if I was his agent at the time when Real Madrid came to sign him, I would not have accepted. He was almost like a God at Chelsea.

“I don’t think Chelsea of today are below Real Madrid in any way. Chelsea are at the same level in everything. If Chelsea were to play against Real Madrid, they will go with the same attitude and without fear. They have a strong squad, big names. If it was me, I would have stayed at Chelsea. They would have given him the same money, the same facilities. It was a big mistake.

“Unfortunately it hasn’t gone well for him. I don’t understand because I was expecting him to continue in a good way. Sometimes there are things that you cannot explain. I don’t know if he has changed his attitude, maybe motivation, mentality. You have to try and find a solution. My advice would have been to go back to Chelsea.”

On the talk of a return to English football being made, with the likes of Chelsea and Liverpool being linked with Hazard, Geremi – who spent four years on Madrid’s books between 1999 and 2003 before taking in a similar spell at Chelsea – added: “He is not young now. It would be about his ambition and motivation. Any club that wants to sign him would have to look at it. Those who want to sign him have maybe asked and know enough. They have to ask about him, his family and know what has happened in his head. These are the questions that you have to find answers to before signing.”

Will Haaland and Mbappe force the issue?

Hazard may have to consider a move away from Madrid as Real are being linked with more ‘Galactico’ additions – with Paris Saint-Germain superstar Kylian Mbappe and prolific Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland said to be in their sights.

Pressed on whether there are deals to be done there, Geremi said: “With Mbappe, it is the same situation [as with Hazard]. When you look at him now as one of the top players in the world, he is there. Paris Saint-Germain, with the squad that they have and the money that they have and the ambition, do you think that a player should leave and have desires to go and play for Real Madrid?

“The situation of Mbappe, I am still waiting. There is a lot of talk. I remember a few years ago when he was complaining about wanting to play with big players. At that time those players were at Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich. Now, PSG have bought big players. I can’t give him advice, he is already the boss, but he doesn’t need to go to another team.

“When you move, you have to start again. Not many players that go from one team to another start really well straight away. It takes time. Sometimes it takes off but other times it never does – like with Hazard. Because I am a fan of Real Madrid I would love them to take him now. Haaland could move. I think he will go. I see Haaland as more of a possibility to move than Mbappe.”

Could Vinicius outshine them all?

While more attacking talent may be incoming at Real, the Blancos are already well-stocked in that department.

Karim Benzema has re-established a reputation as one of the best number nines in world football, while promising Brazilian forward Vinicius Junior has been a revelation in 2021-22 with 12 goals and seven assists to his name.

Quizzed on whether the 21-year-old South American has silenced his doubters to join the likes of Phil Foden, Jude Bellingham and Pedri as one of the finest young talents on the planet, Geremi said: “For sure. Fans are very demanding. When Real Madrid signed him, he was young. Now, he is getting more experience.

“Normally when you sign a young player, it is because you saw the future of that player, you saw that he could be a very good player. In 2023, 2024, some of these players will be at a higher level because they have an opportunity to progress. He is one of those.

“When I saw Vinicius I thought he would be a very good player, and he is proving that. For Real Madrid, it was a good signing. He is growing and progressing. He will continue to do that. In the first season he was okay, but when I was looking at him I knew he just needed time. He has a lot of quality – very fast, big energy. I see him becoming one of the best players.”

Asked if Vinicius could come into Ballon d’Or reckoning at some stage, Geremi added: “The future we cannot predict. With footballers you can get injuries and bad luck. People who know football can see that he has potential, he has quality. You cannot predict the future of his health. If he doesn’t have those problems then for sure he will improve. Look at the season he is having.

“By performing well, the club also has to win some titles. That is very important. If players perform well and the club doesn’t win titles, then the fans forget that. You want good performance and big achievement. It has to be like that.”

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