Fifa World Cup: Eden Hazard drops Real Madrid transfer hint after Belgium beat England in third place play-off
Belgium star tells reporters ‘you know my preferred destination’ after World Cup victory against England at Russia 2018
After inspiring Belgium to their best World Cup finish, Eden Hazard wasted no time in all but confirming he wants to replace Cristiano Ronaldo at Real Madrid.
Hazard scored an excellent breakaway goal as Belgium beat England 2-0 in the Russia 2018 third place play-off at St Petersburg Stadium, capping off an impressive tournament for the 27-year-old.
“After six wonderful years at Chelsea it might be time to discover something different,” he said.
“I can decide if I want to stay or go, but Chelsea will make the final decision, if they want to let me go. You know my preferred destination.”
Hazard has two years left on his contract at Premier League club Chelsea, where he has won two Premier League titles, the FA Cup, the League Cup and the Europa League since joining from Lille.
He has long been linked with a move to Madrid, however, and the Spanish giants are looking for big-name recruits this summer following Ronaldo’s €105 million (US$122.8 million) move to Juventus.
Chelsea and Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois has also been the subject of transfer speculation from Madrid, and said he wants to continue playing with his teammate Hazard.
“Wherever I go, Hazard must come along,” Courtois said. “We will not let each other go. We’ll see. Now first vacation. And agree with my entourage in between.”
New Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri is likely to be against either player departing Stamford Bridge, though.
“Now I’m going to talk to my manager to see what the possibilities are,” added Courtois, whose family still live in the Spanish capital from his time playing for Atletico Madrid.
“All options are open to me. Also stay at Chelsea, yes. People always complain that players do not comply with their contracts, but maybe I will.
“I do not think they will keep someone with my qualities on the bench, even if I do not sign. But maybe that’s possible because I like being in London.”
Belgium manager Roberto Martinez said his side deserve high praise for their achievements in Russia, where they matched some records.
“We faced eye-to-eye to Brazil. We overcame a 2-0 deficit against Japan – that is the first time it happened since 1966,” he said.
“We scored the biggest amount of goals in a Belgian team in World Cup history. We got 10 different goal scorers – which is a record also with France [in 1982] and Italy [in 2006].
“We’ve been a team. We’ve suffered together. We’ve played football that a mutual fan of the World Cup really enjoyed.
“We got the best qualification for Belgium in the history of the World Cup and that makes me very, very proud.”