MARID: Zinedine Zidane expressed his admiration for Eden Hazard on Friday ahead of an expected move for the Chelsea forward from Real Madrid this summer.
Hazard’s contract expires in June 2020 and he is yet to sign a new deal, leaving Chelsea in a difficult position if they want to avoid losing the Belgian for free.
After last year’s World Cup, he admitted “it might be time for something different” while in October, he said it would be a “dream” to play for Real Madrid, “the best club in the world”.
Asked about Hazard at a press conference before Madrid’s La Liga game against Eibar on Saturday, Zidane said: “He is a player I have always rated, as everyone knows.
“He is a player that has played in France, that I have watched a lot and that I know personally. There’s nothing new about what I think of him as a player. He’s a fantastic player.”
Real Madrid have certainly struggled for goals this season.
They have scored 26 fewer than Barcelona in the league and rarely threatened Valencia on Tuesday, when they were beaten 2-1 at Mestalla.
“I know the numbers and it has cost us,” Zidane said. “This year we have had difficulty scoring. Will we change things? Yes.”
Barcelona play at home to second-placed Atletico Madrid on Saturday, meaning Real can close the gap on the top two if they overcome Eibar at the Santiago Bernabeu.
But they are five points behind Atleti and 13 adrift of Barca while the loss to Valencia in midweek exposed their weaknesses both in attack and defence.
“I’m not worried,” Zidane said. “This season has been difficult and I cannot say in two minutes what has happened but there are things that you have to accept.
“We know what all these players have won, not just in my time, but in the last five, six, seven years. We are going to try to turn it around, the club needs change, to win again, to do great things and that’s what I’m here for.
“Our problems on the pitch? We accept them. Fewer people in the stadium? We accept it. But we must not forget what these players have done either. I’m not worried at all.”
Dani Carvajal returned to training on Friday after recovering from a thigh injury but Thibaut Courtois is unlikely to be available after missing the session, along with Vinicius Junior and Marcos Llorente.