'Hazard is a fantastic player' - Zidane praises Chelsea talisman amid Real Madrid links

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The Belgian has been heavily linked with a move to Santiago Bernabeu and their coach has fuelled speculation by revealing he is a huge fan of his

Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane has described Eden Hazard as a "fantastic player" and says he has been a long-term admirer of the Chelsea winger.

Hazard revealed in early February he had made a decision over his future, but the star attacker is yet to announce his plans.

The next transfer window could be the last opportunity for Chelsea to cash in on their most prized asset before he becomes available on a free transfer next year.

The 28-year-old, whose contract at Stamford Bridge runs until 2020, has long been linked with a move to Madrid and Zidane has revealed he rates the Belgium international highly.

Speaking to the media ahead of Madrid's La Liga clash with Eibar on Saturday, Zidane said: "Hazard is a player who I have always rated, who has played in France, and I saw a lot of.

"He is a fantastic player."

Hazard scored in Chelsea's 3-0 win over Brighton and Hove Albion on Wednesday to take his tally to 14 goals in 31 Premier League appearances this season.

The Belgian has enjoyed a superb season on an individual level, despite an inconsistent campaign for the Blues under Italian boss Maurizio Sarri.

Eden Hazard Chelsea 2018-19

Last year he admitted that he "dreams" of playing for Los Blancos one day, but Chelsea are reluctant to allow him to leave the club this summer.

The Premier League giants have been hit with a two-window transfer ban, which could restrict them from being able to sign any new players until the summer of 2020.

The final verdict on their appeal over the decision will be made by a FIFA committee on April 11, which could have a huge impact on Hazard's future at Stamford Bridge.

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Madrid, meanwhile, are plotting wholesale changes at the Bernabeu, with Zidane set to be granted a lucrative war chest to strengthen his current squad when the market reopens.

The European champions are destined to finish the 2018-19 campaign without a trophy, having suffered considerably in the absence of the Frenchman over the last nine months.

Hazard is thought to be at the top of his list of targets and his latest comments are only likely to increase speculation heading into the final weeks of the season.

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