Eden Hazard is into his third season as a Real Madrid player. He recently lost his place as a starter to a rampant, in-form Vinícius Júnior.
What does that say? It says that the Belgian is no longer considered an undroppable figure from the XI when fully fit. And rightfully so.
No matter how good you are on paper, all that matters is how good you can be on the pitch when it comes to Real Madrid.
Eden Hazard knows that. In an interview with Belgium-based Dutch newspaper HLN, Hazard reassured the fans that he will prove his worth. Here is what he said (quotes via MARCA):
“Real Madrid spent a lot of money on me, I want to pay them back.”
“I signed for five years, the first two haven’t been good but I have three more to prove my worth. I hope it works, I hope to get up one morning and find myself in perfect condition for training, I’m waiting for the moment when I can prove my worth.”
I would take a moment to appreciate Eden Hazard’s mentality. Real Madrid has been his dream club and to help the club win titles is something a player of his stature dreams of every single day.
However, you might be thinking how can he help the team when he is not even a starter anymore? Well, he might not start on the left wing anymore. But coach Carlo Ancelotti still believes that Hazard can help Real Madrid in a new role: as a central attacking midfielder in a ‘free-roaming’ role. We got a glimpse of that against Valencia, with the Belgian starting behind Karim Benzema and playing a decent 78 minutes.
The idea is that Eden Hazard starts on the right in a 4-3-3 on paper, but occupies the entire final third with the freedom of roaming wherever he can find/create space. While Hazard plugs into the more central areas, Fede Valverde can exploit the spaces left on the right flank.
In this article, I try to analyze what Real Madrid gain and what Real Madrid lose whenever Eden Hazard will feature as a free-roaming player in the (near) future, and conclude which one outweighs the other, giving my personal thoughts.