Has Eden Hazard made up his mind about Chelsea?
By Joe Harker
Chelsea forward Eden Hazard has made a decision over his future, though he is yet to publicly reveal what that decision is. He made the comments to French radio station RMC as part of a documentary about his career.
Courted by Spanish club Real Madrid, Hazard has been faced with a choice to commit his future to Chelsea or seek a transfer after seven years at Stamford Bridge. Having won two Premier Leagues, the Europa League, the FA Cup and a League Cup title he may feel as though he has achieved all he can.
He has won all of England's main domestic honours and may feel better placed to win the Champions League at a different club. Chelsea last won the competition in 2012, just before Hazard joined the club. Since then Real Madrid have won it on four out of six possible occasions.
The Metro reports that he could cost Madrid over £100 million. Being Chelsea's star forward it is no surprise that they don't want to let him go for a low price. Hazard is one of the best players in the world and his club wants a transfer bid to match.
Hazard is expected to tell Chelsea he wants to go to Real Madrid, reports the Daily Telegraph.
They also report that Hazard has received assurances from the Spanish club that they will bid for him in the summer, the signal he was waiting for before making his intentions known to Chelsea.
The interview where Hazard said he made up his mind was conducted two months ago, though the player will have known it wouldn't be broadcast immediately.
To lose Hazard would be a significant blow to Chelsea, particularly if young talent Callum Hudson-Odoi leaves the club in the summer. Considered one of the brightest lights of the club's youth academy, Hudson-Odoi's preferred position is the same as Hazard's.
If the Belgian leaves it would be a good chance for Hudson-Odoi to be integrated into the first team, making it a potential embarrassment for Chelsea if they lose their best forward and a promising replacement in the same summer.
The Counter Claim:
Former Chelsea star Joe Cole played alongside Hazard at French club Lille in the 2011/12 season, just before the Belgian joined Chelsea.
Cole believes Hazard is the best player in the club's history and considers it imperative that they do everything possible to keep hold of him.
Cole has played alongside Chelsea legends like John Terry, Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba but believes Hazard is the best player he was ever in a team with, saying he encouraged the Belgian to join Chelsea when they played together.
Often linked with a move away, Hazard is a player Cole thinks Chelsea can't afford to lose as he is the best in the Premier League.
Hazard's contract with Chelsea expires in 2020, meaning that he will only have one season left with the club if a transfer bid comes in for him. This gives the player and buying club more power as Chelsea face the prospect of losing their most valuable forward for nothing in exchange for one more season of football.
Chelsea have said they are "immediately" ready to sign the player onto a new deal and the only delay is Hazard not having decided to put his name to it. He has had ample opportunity to do so, fueling concerns that he plans to leave the club rather than sign up for several more years.