Real Madrid aren’t a club that everyone could settle in at. Not at least in the first few games. Luka Modric is a prime example, as the Croatian was given the tag of the ‘Worst La Liga signing of the Season’ when he joined Real from Tottenham. Things obviously changed soon. And Real’s recent expensive signing in Eden Hazard did go throw similar things.
Not long ago, the Belgian was dubbed as the second-worst Galactico in club history by Marca. He was seen to be only a little better than Michael Owen, who had come to the Bernabeu from Liverpool back in the days.
While the criticism Hazard got early on was justified, it was too early to judge. This was the first time he was playing in Spain. It was a transition from being ‘the star’ at Chelsea to being ‘one of the stars’ at Real. The transition in that always takes time. As humans, players always take a while to bed in and then make an impact.
Hazard took abuse for being ‘overweight’ and ‘too heavy’. It is arguable whether the judgement was fair or not. But the burden of a £130 million fee is never a help at all either.
Zinedine Zidane knew of his quality all along. He did talk about it before Hazard came to Madrid in the summer. The Frenchman told reporters (via BR):
“He’s a player I have always appreciated. He is fantastic. I will not give my personal opinion about what may happen because the season has not ended. He has played in France, I have watched him a lot and I know him personally.”
But after what was a poor spell, Real might just be having the original Hazard back. His goal contributions haven’t been immense, but his performances have certainly improved. It has been a series of good showings that have brought a cause for promise.
The former Chelsea man’s last first-team appearance came in Real’s 2-2 draw against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League. It was Hazard’s mazy dribble down the left and the centre that was key in Real’s first goal.
Hazard had four dribbles to his name, completing as many key passes in the game. He was playing as the second-striker in front of Isco and beside Karim Benzema.
Days before that game, he was impressive in Real’s 3-1 win over Real Sociedad too. He completed as many as ten dribbles in the game, coming up with two key passes too. He also had 49 passes to his name- the second-highest for the club. Karim Benzema found the back of the net once and got one assist. Their link-up shone through.
His show against Eibar was just as impressive. Out of ten dribbles attempted, he as successful in seven of them. He had one key pass to his name and he looked like his usual self once again.
Hazard was one of the stars of the show against Leganes as well, helping his side win 5-0 at home. It was Benzema who got two assists and one goal, but Hazard was dazzling on the left. He had seven dribbles completed, having two key passes as well.
His performances have been very good while dribbling. But the final pass is where Hazard is currently lacking. In total, Hazard is completing only 1.4 key passes per game. For a player who dribbles a lot, there needs to be a final ball in his play too. That is where Hazard needs to increase his numbers.
Having said that, he is on the right track. This is very much close to the Hazard everyone wanted to see. And he will be seen very soon.