Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois has predicted stellar new signing Eden Hazard will lead his new employers to “many titles” next season.
Hazard, 28, agreed an initial €100 million move from Chelsea last week and will be presented on June 13, subject to a medical. This exciting capture of a forward with 30 goals in 100 matches for Belgium, plus 110 strikes in 352 run-outs for the Blues, has further raised expectations about a much-improved 2019/20 at Santiago Bernabeu after a miserable previous campaign that only delivered the Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi.
This switch gained roaring approval from Courtois, who features alongside Hazard at international level and was also with him at Stamford Bridge.
“Spaniards are very open,” he said, according to Marca. “If he speaks a little Spanish, it will be even better.
“It’s very nice that we’re going to be together. He’s my friend, I get along very well with him and his family.
“For Madrid, it’s going to be fantastic. I think [Hazard] is going to make the difference and I hope we can win many titles next season.”
Los Blancos have already wrapped up other deals for Santos prospect Rodrygo, Porto centre-back Eder Militao and Eintracht Frankfurt forward Luka Jovic.
The Belgium international had seven seasons at Chelsea, winning six major trophies, including the Europa League and the Premier League twice, the FA Cup and the League Cup, before deciding on a move to Madrid.
Here, we take a look at six former Premier League players who have made the switch.
Steve McManaman (1999-2003)
The Bootle-born player was also the first English footballer to move from the Premier League when he traded Liverpool for Madrid. McManaman scored eight goals in a four-year spell which yielded two La Liga titles and the Champions League, scoring a spectacular volley in the 3-0 final win over Valencia in 2000.
David Beckham (2003-2007)
Beckham left Manchester United for £25million in the summer of 2003, signing a four-year contract to become Madrid’s latest Galactico. The midfielder won 19 major trophies in his 20-year playing career, but his four-year spell at Real was not especially successful. Beckham won the Spanish Super Cup in his first season, scoring in a 3-0 win over Mallorca, and also secured a league title in his final season, before he departed for LA Galaxy.
Michael Owen (2004-2005)
The prolific England international was signed at the peak of his career for £8million. However, as with Beckham, Owen’s time as a Galactico was not without frustration. The striker made the majority of his appearances from the bench in his solitary season at Madrid, where he managed to score a respectable 13 goals from his 36 appearances.
Ruud Van Nistelrooy (2006-2010)
Holland international striker Van Nistelrooy joined former Manchester United team-mate Beckham when he moved to the Bernabeu for £14million. Unfortunately for Van Nistelrooy, his four-year spell was blighted by several injuries, including a partially torn meniscus in his right knee and a thigh issue. He did however manage to win the Pichichi award for scoring the most goals in his first season at the club, as well as going on to win two domestic titles.
Cristiano Ronaldo (2009-2018)
Madrid’s all-time top goalscorer and five-time Ballon d’Or winner was another to trade Manchester for Madrid, when he left United for Real for a world record £80million in 2009. In total he won 15 major trophies including two league titles, two Copa del Reys, four Champions Leagues, two Super Cups and three Club World Cups. After 438 games and more than 450 goals, he joined Juventus in 2018.
Gareth Bale (2013-)
The Wales talisman became the most expensive player in history when he signed from Tottenham for a reported £85.3million in September 2013. Bale played an integral role in his first season with the Spanish giants, scoring decisive goals in the final of both the 2014 Champions League and Copa del Rey. Although recent times at the Bernabeu have not been so successful, with injuries disrupting his momentum, Bale is still averaging around a goal every two games.
Madrid struck a deal with Chelsea that is understood could rise to a club-record fee of £150million, once all bonus payments come into play.
The flat fee will hit £100m, with Chelsea happy to allow Hazard to make his big move for that price given he had just one year left on his Stamford Bridge deal.
Hazard grew up with posters of Zinedine Zidane on his bedroom wall, and now the 28-year-old will work under the Madrid boss.
“Although it is with sadness we say goodbye to Eden and we made it absolutely clear to him the club wished him to stay, we respect the decision he has made to take on a new challenge in a different country and follow his childhood dream of playing for Real Madrid,” said Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia.
“The memories he leaves us with will not fade. He provided all who watched Chelsea play with great entertainment and many match-winning contributions, and for that we thank Eden enormously.
“He has been a model professional throughout his time at the club, a wonderful individual to have around and a joy to work with.
“We look forward to welcoming him back to Stamford Bridge in the future.”
In an open letter to Chelsea fans published on his Facebook page, Hazard said: “You now know that I will be joining Real Madrid. It’s no secret that it was my dream to play for them since I was a young boy just scoring my first goal.
“I have tried my very best not to distract myself or the team through this difficult period of speculation and media attention, especially the last six months.
“Now the clubs have reached an agreement I hope you understand I had to pursue my next chapter, just as each and every one of you should when you have the chance to pursue your dreams.
“Leaving Chelsea is the biggest and toughest decision in my career to date. Now it’s in the open I would like to put on record one thing was always clear to me, I have loved every moment at Chelsea and not once did I ever consider, nor would I have left for any other club.”
Hazard will double his wages to £400,000 in a five-year deal at Madrid, becoming the club’s second major signing of the summer after Frankfurt striker Luka Jovic.
Real will now look to prise Christian Eriksen away from Tottenham, though Spurs will fight tooth and nail to retain their Denmark playmaker.
“Real Madrid and Chelsea have agreed to the transfer of the player Eden Hazard,” read Madrid’s statement. “The player remains linked to the club during the next five seasons, until June 30, 2024.
“Eden Hazard will be presented as a new player of Real Madrid on Thursday, June 13 at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium, after passing the relevant medical examination.”
Hazard joined Chelsea from Lille in 2012, and went on to win two Premier League titles, one FA Cup and one League Cup – and two Europa League crowns.
The Belgium talisman leaves having fired 110 goals in 352 appearances at Chelsea – and above all with the full blessing of the club’s hierarchy that he so wanted before departing.
Hazard signed off in perfect style, spearheading the 4-1 Europa League final triumph over Arsenal in Baku, scoring twice and assisting another.
“I think it’s a goodbye,” said Hazard in Baku. “My dream was to play in the Premier League, I did it for seven years. Maybe it’s time for a new challenge.”
Chelsea did everything in their power to tempt Hazard into staying at Stamford Bridge, but the Blues could not combat the lure of Madrid.
Childhood friend and Belgium team-mate Christian Benteke revealed this week that Hazard told him when he was 12 that his chief ambition was to play for Real. And now the mercurial playmaker has seen that wish come true.
Chelsea will now hope for success in their appeal to the Court for Arbitration for Sport (CAS) against their two-window FIFA transfer ban.
Manager Maurizio Sarri’s move to Juventus is expected to be wrapped up shortly, with Chelsea holding out for £5m in compensation.
The Stamford Bridge hierarchy want their eventual new manager to arrive with the potential to make new recruits, with Barcelona’s Philippe Coutinho a possible target as Hazard’s replacement.
Homegrown forward Callum Hudson-Odoi will play a more pivotal role once fit after Achilles tendon surgery, though the 18-year-old remains locked in talks with Chelsea over a new long-term contract.