Barring a shocking transfer bid from out of nowhere, Eden Hazard is going to be a Real Madrid player once more in the 2022/23 season.
Although there have been rumors linking the former Premier League legend away from the Santiago Bernabeu, nobody should expect Chelsea, Newcastle, or, more ludicrously, Arsenal to come calling.
Hazard is going to do whatever he can to make sure he is a success at Real Madrid. Finding his confidence again is imperative. Lately, he is showing signs of believing in his body again, whether it was for Madrid against Cadiz or for the Belgian national team in the UEFA Nations League.
But what role will Hazard have in a crowded attack? Let’s take a look at three ways he could contribute to Real Madrid in niche situations as a backup.
I will have more on this in a later article, but to keep things brief, the Aurelien Tchouameni signing doesn’t just give Real Madrid an immediate backup for Casemiro and a long-term replacement for the Brazilian. Tchouameni can help Real use different looks in midfield, including double-pivots with either Toni Kroos or Luka Modric.
Which means in a 4-3-3, Real Madrid could have a three-man midfield with a double-pivot and a No. 10 ahead of them. We have seen Real use this in the past, and Ancelotti has an affinity for 10’s and technically brilliant players. Maybe that leads to a modern 10 playing for Madrid in the future, such as Florian Wirtz or the versatile Christopher Nkunku.
But in the short-term, it could be a place for Hazard to contribute now that Isco is gone. The 10 may be Hazard’s best position at this stage of his career, even above the left wing. I would keep an open mind about this as a possibility.
Eden Hazard played as a false nine once for Real Madrid in the 2021/22 season. I would not say this is an ideal position for the Belgian forward at all, but it is a possiblity.
We know Carlo Ancelotti wants a backup striker, but I think Real want to avoid investing in the position significantly this summer. They would prefer to sign someone who can develop behind Karim Benzema or just wait two years before deciding, as Erling Haaland has a release clause with the intent of leaving the door open for the Merengues.
Juanmi Latasa and Borja Mayoral are free, talented options for this spot, but Ancelotti could also use Hazard as a false nine in a pinch.
The “Free Role” on the right is a possibility, but I think Carlo will avoid this. It destabilizes the squad too much, because Hazard rarely stays on the right wing.
Vinicius Jr. and Rodrygo Goes need minutes on the left, and Vini is the sure-fire starter as one of the best players in the world and definitely one of the two best at the left wing position.
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But Hazard should still get his opportunities, whether it is a start here or a bench appearance there. He will have to be satisfied with whatever limited chances he gets in his preferred position, though, so the re-opening of the 10 role in certain situations may end up being a more significant role for Hazard in 2021/22. But we shall see.