Before Eden Hazard joined Real Madrid, he was one of the best players in the world at Chelsea. And before he was an icon for the Blues, he was one of the best young players in the world at Lille. Few truly saw Hazard dazzle at Lille, but he truly was a special prospect in Ligue 1. The Belgian had a jaw-dropping 20 goals and 16 assists in 2011-2012, which was his final season with Les Dogues before moving to the Premier League. To date, Hazard has never had more goals or assists in a league season.
Hazard has not provided more than five goal contributions in a given league season for Real Madrid since joining in the summer 2019 transfer window from Chelsea for a cool 100 million euros.
He is currently riding the bench for Los Blancos. Carlo Ancelotti tried to get him involved as a starter earlier this season in a free role, transitioning him from the wing into a central playmaking role to accommodate the way injuries have changed the No. 7’s game. But with Vinicius Junior shining on the left and the need for defensive stability on the wings, Hazard has no place on either side of the formation as a starter.
It is no secret that while Hazard wants to stay and make things work at the club of his dreams, Los Merengues would like to shed his salary and clear the way for the big-name forwards they want to sign in 2022. Real, after all, are interested in both of the two biggest stars of the next decade, Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland.
Not many clubs seem interested in Eden Hazard
There don’t seem to be many suitors for Hazard. Newcastle may not be interested, despite all of their money. A reunion with Chelsea is frequently discussed in the rumor mill, but it seems fanciful at this point.
But how about a reunion with the other club Hazard starred for before heading off to the Santiago Bernabeu? Yes, Lille is a possibility. Albeit in only one specific circumstance.
Where does the link to Lille come from? The president of the 2020-2021 Ligue 1 champions, Olivier Letang, did not rule out the possibility of a move. But he did not exactly make it sound like he was actively pursuing Hazard, beyond it being a joke and a diplomatic response to a question he was asked.
However, it is not far-fetched for Hazard to go to Lille in lieu of any other suitors and if nostalgia is important to Hazard. Yet almost any move involving Hazard centers around the one unspoken variable that is likely the reason why Real Madrid quietly want to sell him, even if they will not actively do so nor disrespect him, given his apparent wish to stay as long as he can.
Would Eden Hazard be willing to take a pay cut?
That variable is salary. Hazard is not cheap. Depending on who you believe, he makes between 20 and 30 million euros per year at Real Madrid. Newcastle and Chelsea could afford that if interested, but any club that isn’t bankrolled cannot. And they especially cannot afford to pay a player who has not been consistently healthy or producing that kind of money.
Lille is in that category of club, just like everyone else. So if Hazard wanted a move or realized that a transfer out of Madrid were the only way to prolong his career, then he would have to be willing to take a pay cut. The top clubs probably would not be interested in signing him, and nobody else could possibly pay him.
That said, wouldn’t it be more likely for the No. 7 to take a pay cut to join Lille than any other comparable club? Lille were the champions last year and are one of the five most prestigious clubs in France. And there is obviously the nostalgia factor. Lille wasn’t just a former club for Hazard. He was a major player there; it was the club where he became a superstar before Chelsea turned him into an icon.
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Nobody should consider a move to Lille likely. Not this winter, not this summer, and not even next winter or summer. But Letang is right to say that a move is not impossible. We do not know what is in Hazard’s heart or mind. Understanding the dynamics that would occur if Hazard wanted out of Madrid, Lille actually have as good of a chance as some of the clubs linked to him. That is to say, they do not have much of a chance, however, they do have an advantage and a feel-good story about them.