A man who tore defences apart on a regular basis at Stamford Bridge has been far less effective in the final third since moving to Santiago Bernabeu
Eden Hazard “didn’t take the move to Real Madrid seriously” last year, according to ex-Chelsea forward Tony Cascarino, who says the Belgian winger “downs tools” far too often.
Much was expected of Hazard when Madrid forked out €100 million (£90m/$118m) to bring him to Santiago Bernabeu from Chelsea in June 2019.
The 29-year-old scored 110 goals and provided 92 assists in 352 games for the Blues, winning two Premier League titles, two Europa League crowns and the FA Cup in the process.
However, his debut season in Spain has been underwhelming, as he’s managed to find the net just once in 22 appearances across all competitions.
Niggling injuries and fitness issues have restricted Hazard’s contribution, with his latest sub-par showing coming during Madrid’s last-16 second-leg defeat to Manchester City in the Champions League.
The Belgium international only touched the ball 37 times during the 2-1 loss at the Etihad Stadium – the second-lowest total of any of the Blancos’ starters on the night – and failed to complete a single take-on during his 83 minutes on the pitch.
Cascarino says Hazard was guilty of arriving in Madrid in poor physical shape, and that he didn’t recognise the player making his return to English soil on Friday.
“We all know how brilliant Hazard can be, we all know the difference he can make to a football team,” the former Chelsea forward told talkSPORT. “But he didn’t take the move to Madrid seriously, and he’s paid for it this season.
“He turned up overweight, he’s been playing catch-up, he’s getting niggly injuries. Watching him last night was like watching a completely different player.
“Kyle Walker must’ve been thinking, ‘Is this the same player I faced at Chelsea?’
“He’s a brilliant player, but he’s paid the price for turning up at Madrid for a big fee and not taking it seriously.
“He does switch off every now and again. As good and as great as he can be, he does down tools every so often.”
Madrid exited the Champions League in the first knockout phase for the second successive year after failing to overturn a 2-1 deficit from February’s first leg at Santiago Bernabeu.
The result in Manchester saw Zinedine Zidane suffer an early European exit for the first time in his managerial career, but he praised his La Liga winning-squad post-match and urged them to be “proud” of their efforts over the course of the season.