Eden Hazard has set a deadline on his move from Chelsea to Real Madrid, so what is holding up the deal? Belgian football expert Kristof Terreur explains all to the Transfer Talk podcast…
Hazard, 28, has told Chelsea where he wants to play next season and was keen to resolve his future quickly, but is resigned to the fact no deal is likely to be agreed before Wednesday’s Europa League final against Arsenal.
After last summer’s World Cup in Russia, the Belgium international forward, who is out of contract next summer, said “it might be time to discover something different”, adding that Chelsea “know his preferred destination”.
No transfer materialised last summer, but with the return of Zinedine Zidane, who has made no secret of his admiration for Hazard, and Real on the back of an abysmal season, the desire to get the Belgian to the Bernabeu has intensified.
Sky Sports News understands Real are confident of signing Hazard, but Chelsea’s two-window transfer ban, imposed by FIFA, complicates matters – as they may not be able to get a replacement.
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Hazard’s June 4 deadline
Hazard agreed terms with Real “a while ago”, but the two clubs are yet to agree a fee, says Terreur. But he anticipates a lot of movement in the days following the Europa League final on May 29.
He said: “I heard that Real are wanting to make the final push after the Europa League final. I think the jigsaw pieces might fall into place in that short period after the Europa League final.
“That’s what the player’s hoping for as well. He wants everything done before he joins Belgium – they’re playing Kazakhstan and Scotland – that’s on the fourth of June.
“So there’s a bit of a deadline, but there’s some space to do the deal.”
Pressed for where he thinks Hazard will be next season, Terreur said: “Real Madrid”.
Zidane putting pressure on Real
With Real and Chelsea €30m apart in their valuation of the player two weeks ago, the Premier League club put talks on hold ahead of the Europa League final.
But Terreur believes Zidane’s anger following the club’s dismal display after they lost 2-0 at home to Real Betis on the final day of the season could accelerate negotiations over a fee.
“In the last two weeks not a lot has happened between the two clubs because Chelsea are saying, ‘we’ll do it after the Europa League final’,” he said.
“But at a certain moment they were still €30m apart and that’s without discussing the bonuses.
“I don’t know, maybe they have been in touch over the last few weeks. I think there’s something that might have changed – Real lost their last home game against Real Betis 2-0 with a very angry Zinedine Zidane.
“He is the key to this deal, he wants to build his team around Eden Hazard and he wants to get the deal done quickly so he is sure he can do that. I think he has put a bit of pressure on Real Madrid.
“Maybe they are going to pay more than they were initially thinking, at the beginning €100m was their maximum. That’s also what they were sending through the mouthpieces, saying ‘everything agreed for €100m’, although at that time nothing was agreed.
“They tried to put pressure on Chelsea, but in the modern day that does not work. Chelsea thought, ‘let them do that, they have to pay what we want’. We will see what Chelsea do.”
Transfer ban complication
In February, Chelsea were handed a two-window transfer ban by FIFA and they were unsuccessful in their appeal to world football’s governing body, expressing their surprise at the decision to uphold the embargo.
They can, however, take their appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, who are yet to hear anything from Chelsea.
That means, as it stands, Chelsea cannot sign a replacement for Hazard should they let him leave the club. Although, they did already sign winger Christian Pulisic from Borussia Dortmund in January, loaning him back to the German club until the end of the season.
“Chelsea might slow down everything because they don’t know what’s happening with their transfer ban. They still haven’t appealed it with CAS. They’re still waiting to get back the written reasons from FIFA,” he said.
“It’s a difficult one. Pure business-wise, you would say, ‘you have to [sell Hazard]’, otherwise you lose €100m, or even more. On the other hand, they can’t sign any new players.
“They went strong after FIFA rejected the appeal, saying ‘we will go to CAS, but that has changed a little bit over the last few weeks. It’s a bit unclear – as it always is with Chelsea – what is going to happen.
“I’m always hearing Marina Granovskaia is the key – she will decide if he stays or goes.
“The player wanted to go last summer after the World Cup and he has given them an extra season. He has had Real Madrid fans around his head for the whole year and he still has form, too.
“Statistically, he’s had his best season. He carried them to the Champions League. So he’s given them an extra season and he expects something back. He wants to go to Real Madrid and it is always difficult to keep unhappy players.”
Chelsea’s ‘loop-hole’ to make signings
At this stage, Chelsea are unable to sign any new players this summer, but they are allowed to make permanent the deal of any loannee already registered to the club, even if there is no option to buy in their contract.
“They can sign one or two [loan] players that might be key in the negotiations,” Terreur said.
“Mateo Kovacic is still registered at Chelsea until June 30 and if they reach an agreement with Real Madrid before that date, they can sign him on a permanent because he is registered – even though they don’t have an option.
“That’s a little loop-hole in the law. That might have an influence on the negotiations, too. Chelsea know if they accept the transfer ban, that’s still a possibility.”