'Hazard may be ready for something different' - Belgium boss Martinez fuels Real Madrid rumours

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The Chelsea forward continues to be heavily linked with a summer move to Spain, with his international manager suggesting a switch could be imminent

Eden Hazard continues to be linked with a move from Chelsea to Real Madrid, with Belgium manager Roberto Martinez conceding that now could be the time for him to “try something different”.

The 27-year-old forward has been a reported target for the Blancos across a number of transfer windows, with his playmaking ability considered to sit perfectly in the ‘Galactico’ mould.

It could be that 2018 is the year in which a formal approach is made, with Hazard having hinted that he is ready to take on a new challenge after six years at Stamford Bridge.

Martinez would understand if a star turn from his international set-up does swap the English capital for its Spanish equivalent this summer, with a two-time Premier League title winner considered to be at the peak of his powers.

"It could be the best time [for Hazard] to try something different," Martinez told Cadena Ser.

"He is a player who has maturity and a lot of leadership. His play is based on talent. Hazard could carry a new project anywhere in the world. He is at the best moment of his career.

"For me, it's very easy to answer that question. He could fit in any team in the world. Players need new challenges and new projects. Perhaps it's a good time for [Chelsea] and for Eden [to split]. I would be very surprised if Chelsea didn't have big offers for him right now."

He added: "Eden is a player you don't really know until you work with him.

"I've been pleasantly surprised. He has such maturity and leadership skills. Eden is one of the few players that exist around the world where his play is based on talent one on one."

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Hazard starred for Belgium at the 2018 World Cup as they secured a third-place finish.

He is now a talismanic presence for club and country and a player considered by many to be well placed to push on towards Ballon d’Or honours in the future.

Martinez added on Hazard’s exploits in Russia over recent weeks: "Eden has won three man of the match awards of the seven games. He is competitive. He has been incredibly consistent. I don't think he has any type of preference right now."

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