Real Madrid: Was signing Eden Hazard worth it?

Eden Hazard of Real Madrid (Photo by Silvestre Szpylma/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)
Eden Hazard of Real Madrid (Photo by Silvestre Szpylma/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images) /

Left winger Eden Hazard joined Real Madrid for 100 million euros, but after a year, has he been worth the price?

There are so many varying opinions about Real Madrid left winger Eden Hazard, whose first season at the Santiago Bernabeu featured flashes of his world-class brilliance but was otherwise blighted by injury.

Hazard joined Los Blancos for 100 million euros despite only having one year left on his contract, so Chelsea’s Marina Granovskaia did wonderfully to collect that sum from Florentino Perez. Therefore, the onus was on Madrid to get the most out of Hazard and prove that he was indeed the game-changing superstar for them.

At the time, the Hazard signing was roundly praised as a good move for Los Blancos. Neymar and Kylian Mbappe were pipe dreams, so, realistically, Hazard was the only superstar Real could have signed at the wide forward position.

They needed a superstar. Karim Benzema was the only impressive goal-scorer for Real Madrid in 2018-2019. Gareth Bale was already looking on the downswing and should have been sold that summer. Vinicius Junior was promising in his first season, but Real Madrid couldn’t count on him as a full-time starter. Rodrygo Goes was purchased for 50 million euros, but he couldn’t be counted on as a full-time starter either. Like Vini, Rodrygo is one for the future.

Eden Hazard looked like a superstar for Real Madrid last Fall

So looking at need, quality, and consistency of performance, Hazard, who was rarely injured at Chelsea, looked like a slam dunk. Hazard finished his career in London with 16 goals and 15 assists in the Premier League, representing the highest goal contribution of his Chelsea career. And he left on a high note, leading the Blues to a Europa League title.

It took Hazard some time to get going at Real Madrid, but by the Fall, he was their best player. La Liga defenses could not get a handle on Hazard, who won dribble after dribble. His star power and ability on the ball opened up all sorts of opportunities for his teammates. Rodrygo had space to score. Karim Benzema played some of his best football. And Real were cruising.

Unfortunately, Hazard’s season would never be the same after an ankle injury against PSG. He returned at two points in the 2019-2020 season and played decently well before aggravation the injury, but he never quite matched his form in October and November.

Now, Eden Hazard has yet to take the pitch for Los Merengues in the 2020-2021 season, even picking up a new injury that is not to his ankle.

As frustrating as it has been to see Hazard struggle to get on the pitch and play at the level we know he is capable of, it is unfair to say that he wasn’t worth the money. Anyone can look in hindsight and call Real Madrid foolish, and anyone can look at Hazard’s age, 29, and say that this injury means he is finished being a 100 million euro player.

Doubting Eden Hazard succeeding at Real Madrid is dangerous

But to doubt Hazard is to play a dangerous game. You would be doubting a world-class player who was the Premier League’s best of the decade and a top-five player in the world at his peak. You would be doubting a man who starred in a World Cup and scored 44 goals in his last three Premier League seasons (nearly 15 goals per season).

If Real Madrid didn’t sign Hazard, they would have 100 million euros. But who would they have signed with that money in 2019 or 2020? Maybe Kai Havertz, but it’s hard to think of a wide forward with Hazard’s level of star power they could have signed. I can’t think of a single player they could have purchased at that price tag. And financially, they will still have enough to sign their true top targets, Kylian Mbappe and Eduardo Camavinga in 2021. Or in 2022, Erling Haaland.

So as disappointed as Hazard’s start to life at Real Madrid has been, the issue we have is with the injury, not Hazard. Because before the infamous PSG game, Hazard was on a trajectory to holding up his end of the bargain. He can still get back to that level, too, despite the setbacks.

Next. The past, present, and future of Real Madrid's defense. dark

With most players, it is up to them to prove they are worth the transfer fee. Ferland Mendy has proved it. The jury is still out on Luka Jovic. But players like Hazard are an exception. For those superstar players have the benefit of the doubt, so the rule is inversed. We would need more evidence to say that Hazard has not been worth the fee, as lofty as the price seems now.