‘He didn’t care’ - Hazard slammed by fourth tier opponent after latest forgettable performance for Real Madrid
- Belgian has struggled for Blancos
- Only three starts this season
- Taken off in Copa del Rey contest
WHAT HAPPENED? The former Belgium international forward, who has struggled for form and fitness since joining the Blancos from Chelsea in 2019, has taken in just seven outings for La Liga heavyweights this season. Just one goal has been recorded, while making only three starts, and the 31-year-old was hauled off after 68 minutes of a narrow 1-0 Copa del Rey win over minnows Cacereno on Tuesday with more questions being asked of his physical conditioning and ability to make a decisive contribution to the collective cause at Santiago Bernabeu.
WHAT THEY SAID: Cacereno winger Carmelo Mereciano has told AS of coming up against a player that was once considered to be one of the best in the world and deserving of a €100 million (£88m/$106m) transfer fee when he moved to Spain: “Hazard? It was like he didn't care about the game. He didn't want to take the ball, he didn't run. He was totally unnoticed.”
THE BIGGER PICTURE: While Hazard fluffed his lines again during a rare opportunity to impress for Real, Carlo Ancelotti has sought to defend the Belgian from mounting criticism. The Blancos boss said after a cup outing on a difficult playing surface: “You can’t play football [on Cacereno’s pitch]. For me it’s not football, it’s another sport. It’s nice because small teams can fight and compete with bigger teams. It’s good for the fans, but the fans also want to see beautiful matches. I liked [Hazard]. It’s difficult to evaluate players individually, it was impossible to play. Smaller players like Hazard or Rodrygo suffer more, but he delivered.”
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WHAT NEXT? Hazard has generated plenty of transfer speculation during a testing spell in Madrid, but his contract is due to run until the summer of 2024 and Real will find it difficult to find a buyer for a player that has lost his spark since bidding farewell to Stamford Bridge.