It was a hand-grenade lobbed into a bouncy castle. At the end of a typically soft, cosy interview with FIFA.com, Zinedine Zidane declared his love for Eden Hazard. As much love, if not more, than he has for Leo Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. And as one of the greatest playmakers in history, one can imagine that Zidane has plenty.
Question: Is there a player in the game today with the ability to make you dream?
Zizou: No. That’s not the right word. There are players I keep an eye on and who I like a lot, like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, of course. They’re fantastic players, but I like Eden Hazard a lot too. I enjoy everything he does on the pitch. I like the way he carries himself, that decisive streak in him and the fact that he’s improving every year. He can still get better too, and I think he’s a big reason why Chelsea are on top of the table.
The French legend’s not wrong, of course. The Belgian’s scored 19 goals in all competitions this year and seems set to be named England’s player of the year on Sunday. He’s also just signed a new long-term contract, not that such trivialities ever stop Real Madrid from getting their man.
Zidane is in charge of Real’s reserves and given the rate at which the club burns through bosses, it surely won’t be long before he’s managing the first team. So it’s not surprising that his remarks are being seen as a sort of linguistic magic eye puzzle, where you look at the words and at first glance they say “Eden Hazard’s a really good player”, but if you examine them more closely, what’s revealed is “REAL MADRID WANTS TO BUY EDEN HAZARD”.
And if Manchester United spends more than $100 million on Gareth Bale this summer, it’ll be no trouble for Real Madrid to buy Eden Hazard. So that’s probably put Chelsea on red alert. Or blue alert. Whatever. We’ll see if the 24-year-old’s “decisive streak” extends to him decisively demanding a move to the Bernabéu after Zidane’s flattery, which seems to be the first shots fired from Cupid’s arrow in what’s sure to be a long and controversial charm offensive.