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‘Hazard exit will hit Chelsea as hard as Henry’s did Arsenal’ – Real Madrid talk concerns ex-Blues striker

14:16 IST 09/04/2019
Eden Hazard Chelsea 2018-19
The Belgium international is considered to be integral to future plans at Stamford Bridge as he shares a standing similar to that of past heroes

Eden Hazard leaving would hit Chelsea as hard as Thierry Henry’s departure did Arsenal back in 2007, says former Blues striker Tony Cascarino.

Speculation continues to rage when it comes to the future of a talismanic figure at Stamford Bridge.

The Belgium international forward has offered no indication that he is actively seeking a move, but neither has he ruled one out.

Real Madrid are said to be monitoring proceedings closely amid the uncertainty, with the Blancos having been offered hope by past comments from Hazard.

It could be that a formal approach is made in the next transfer window, with Zinedine Zidane expected to spend big during a second spell at the Santiago Bernabeu helm.

Cascarino is aware that Hazard could be lured to Spain and has warned Chelsea that, like London rivals before them, they will struggle to fill the void created by a match-winning talent.

The ex-Blues frontman told talkSPORT: “It will be as big a loss to a team as Thierry Henry was when he left to go to Barcelona.

“He [Hazard] is up there with the very best. If he gets you from a standing start and he stops, you’re in trouble. There aren’t many players I can say that about.

“He goes from zero to 50 in a split second, then he’s gone. He’ll go either way. How many players can go either way?

“You know he’s going to beat you. Take the first goal last night, there’s not much that any defender could do about that. The speed, acceleration, ability – if you go near him, you know it’s going to be a penalty.

“He is just a very talented boy.

“I do think he’ll leave this summer, it’s a consequence of his contract running down. Zidane was his hero, so he will want to taste pastures new.”

While expecting Hazard to head out of Stamford Bridge in the near future, Cascarino has seen nothing to suggest that the 28-year-old will be allowing his standards to dip.

He added after witnessing a stunning two-goal showing from the Belgian against West Ham: “At least we’re not seeing a player down tools.

“We’re seeing a player play the best football he can.”

Hazard’s brace in a derby date with the Hammers has lifted Chelsea up to third in the Premier League table, with their attention now about to shift to continental matters and the first leg of a Europa League quarter-final clash with Slavia Prague.