Chelsea have placed a £100million valuation on Eden Hazard amid interest from Real Madrid, according to The Independent.
The Belgium international has been approved as a target by manager Zinedine Zidane ahead of the summer transfer window.
What’s the word?
The Independent report that Hazard is likely to move to the Spanish capital when the transfer window reopens.
The Belgium international has been integral to the Blues over the past seven years and has made over 340 appearances for the club, scoring 106 goals and providing 87 assists.
His honours list is enviable – he has won two Premier League titles, the FA Cup, the League Cup and the Europa League during his spell at Stamford Bridge – but his time in west London may well be coming to an end.
Hazard’s current contract expires in 2020 and he has thus far shown no signs of renewing that deal, per the aforementioned report.
That may have forced the club’s hand, particularly with a transfer ban in effect for the summer, meaning it is unlikely they will be able to buy a replacement, regardless of the fee received.
Chelsea are currently holding out for a fee in excess of £100m, with The Independent claiming that Real president Florentino Perez is hoping to a deal for €100m (£86.1m).
It appears, then, that there is plenty of negotiating to do.
Unthinkable must become reality
Chelsea must keep Hazard this summer, even if it means him leaving on a free at the end of next season.
Even with the Belgian in their team this time around, the club have struggled under the management of Maurizio Sarri, who has already proved to be a divisive figure among Chelsea fans.
Hazard, nevertheless, has scored 17 goals and laid on 12 assists in 41 games in all competitions.
They would not be able to replace those numbers even if they were able to enter the transfer market and, as such, it becomes clear that Hazard is an invaluable asset to the club.
Given that they cannot reinvest the money anyway, it makes sense for Chelsea to force Hazard to stick around and attempt to coax another excellent season out of him in 2019-20 as they look to challenge for the title after a term of underachievement.
The winger could then move to pastures new on a free transfer.
It is, of course, unlikely, but it is also, in a warped sort of way, entirely logical.
Indeed, if they lose him this summer, they risk the possibility of slipping even further down the table next term.