Hazard & Zidane together at last! How Real Madrid will line up with Belgian superstar

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After singing the Belgian’s praises for a decade, the World Cup winner is finally going to get the chance to work with the winger at the Bernabeu

"We've been trying for a number of years to make Eden Hazard a Real Madrid player," club president Florentino Perez recently admitted.

That is no exaggeration either. Hazard's imminent move to the Santiago Bernabeu is a transfer a decade in the making.

It was in May 2009 that Blancos icon Zinedine Zidane first publicly urged his former club to sign the Belgian, who, at the age of 18, had just been named Ligue 1's Young Player of the Season.

"I would take Hazard to Madrid with my eyes closed," the France legend said of the then Lille winger.

Less than a year later, and after watching Hazard win another Young Player of the Season award, Zidane again pushed for Real to sign the teenager, this time in his role as Perez's unofficial adviser.

"There's little doubt that he's a future star," the World Cup winner declared. "He's very quick, has a lot of individual class and I'm convinced that he'll become a great player."

Zidane wasn't wrong. Unfortunately, at the time, Perez was more concerned with ushering in another era of 'Galacticos', having already signed Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka shortly after being sworn in for a second term as Blancos president in June 2009.

Consequently, Hazard eventually ended up moving to Chelsea in 2011 but Perez never lost interest in signing the Blues No.10, with his efforts to do so only intensifying during Zidane's first spell in charge of Madrid as coach, between 2016 and 2018.

A deal was never done, of course, with Chelsea unsurprisingly reluctant to let go of their star player and Ronaldo still occupying the left-wing berth at the Bernabeu.

Eden Hazard Zinedine Zidane PS

Now, though, with the Portuguese gone and Zidane back at the helm, the Blancos boss is finally set to land Hazard, who admitted after netting twice in last week's Europa League final triumph over Arsenal that he is ready to leave Chelsea in order to realise his dream of playing for his footballing idol.

"It's thanks to him I started playing," Hazard previously admitted to RTBF.

The question now is whether Zidane can take a player that inspired Chelsea to two Premier League titles during his seven-year stint at Stamford Bridge to an even higher level.

Cesc Fabregas has "no doubts" that Hazard would flourish in La Liga, anyway.

"I think that at Real Madrid that Eden would win everything," the former Chelsea midfielder told Goal last week. "He would kill it. He would be brilliant."

Certainly, Hazard looks a perfect fit for Zidane's new-look Madrid side, the belated world-class replacement for Ronaldo on the left-hand side of the attack.

Of course, Vinicius Junior excelled in that position during an excellent debut season in Spain that, while punctuated with injuries, was illuminated by thrilling wing play.

However, it seems far more likely that the Brazilian sensation will be switched to the opposite flank, thus allowing Hazard to play in his preferred position on the left, so as to allow the 28-year-old to cut inside on to his favoured right foot.

Like Vinicius, Karim Benzema was one of the few Madrid players to shine last season, scoring 30 goals in all competitions, and the French forward should prove an excellent foil for Hazard, just as he did for Ronaldo before him.

Hazard was often asked to play as a 'false nine' at Chelsea, primarily because of the struggles of former Blues forward Alvaro Morata, and it is a role that he carried out diligently, and often effectively.

Eden Hazard Dribbles PS

Madrid plan to retain the services of Marcos Asensio despite a distinctly underwhelming 2018-19 campaign, meaning he could be used in an intriguing attacking triumvirate of wingers alongside Hazard and Vinicius. However, it is far more likely that Benzema will continue to serve as a useful focal point up front.

That being said, for all of the accusations that Zidane lacked tactical versatility during his first spell at the Bernabeu, he did show impressive acumen in the way in which he dealt with Gareth Bale's constant injury issues.

Unable to rely on the Welshman to play on the right flank in his preferred 4-3-3 formation, Zidane switched to a more fluid 4-3-1-2 line-up, with the gifted attacking midfielder Isco handed the No.10 role, behind Ronaldo and Benzema.

It would, therefore, not be a total shock to sometimes see Hazard deployed as a trequartista, with Vinicius and Benzema ahead of him.

Indeed, with Madrid having just wrapped up a deal with Eintracht Frankfurt for Luka Jovic, we could see Zidane occasionally play two up top next season, even if it is more likely that the Serb will vie with Benzema for the central attacking berth.

Still, if Real are ever in dire need of goals, we could even be treated to Hazard, Benzema, Vinicius and Jovic all on the field at the same time in what would effectively be a 4-2-4 formation.

Eden Hazard Real Madrid PS

Eden Hazard Real Madrid PS

Eden Hazard Real Madrid PS

The main thing, though, is that Hazard will add another element to an attack that was depressingly devoid of inspiration and incision last season.

Hazard completed more dribbles (205) in all competitions last season than any other player in Europe's 'Big Five' leagues, while he ranked third for chances created, with 122 – one more than Lionel Messi.

What's more, he is coming off the most prolific season of his career, having scored 21 times in what was a turbulent campaign for Chelsea.

In short, he is, at 28, perfectly primed for this transfer. It is his dream move. And he is Zidane's dream signing.

The Ballon d'Or winner once confessed, "Both Messi and Ronaldo are spectacular, but I like Eden Hazard more."

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Next season should show us why.

Zidane truly believes Real will finally have their Ronaldo replacement. And a new, worthy rival for Messi.

The pressure will be intense. But Hazard should prove well worth the wait.

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