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Chelsea's Rumored Hazard Deal Is Welcome but Doesn't Ensure Long-Term Allegiance

Chelsea's Eden Hazard celebrates after scoring against Tottenham Hotspur during their English Premier League soccer match, at the Stamford Bridge Stadium in London, Saturday March 8, 2014. (AP Photo/Bogdan Maran)
Bogdan Maran/Associated Press
Garry HayesFeatured Columnist IVOctober 18, 2016

To quote John W. Henry: "What we’ve [Fenway Sports Group] found is that contracts don’t seem to mean a lot in England—actually, in world football."

The Liverpool owner was talking in early March at a sports conference, discussing the situation surrounding Luis Suarez last summer and, per The Mirror, how the club had reneged on a transfer clause in the Uruguayan's contract.

"Since apparently these contracts don’t seem to hold, we took the position that we’re just not selling," he added, explaining why Liverpool held firm amid interest in Suarez from Arsenal.

It may have been a eureka moment for the American, but it's something we've known for a long while in football—contracts simply aren't worth the paper they are written on.

Kirsty Wigglesworth/Associated Press

It's why news of Chelsea offering their star player, Eden Hazard, a new deal means little more than the Belgian receiving a pay rise for his excellent form this year.

The Evening Standard suggests Hazard will be offered a deal in the region of £200,000 per week, replacing his existing five-year contract signed only in 2012 when he joined for £32 million from Lille.

Chelsea fans need not get excited, however.

The Blues may be showing plenty of desire to keep hold of their prized asset in the wake of rumored interest from Real Madrid, but let's not be fooled. If the time comes when Hazard decides he wants to leave Stamford Bridge, his latest deal will not prevent him from getting his wish.

Recent years have shown us that much—Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale each forcing through a move move to the Bernabeu on the back of signing extended contracts with their clubs—while football has long been known for players jumping ship at any given moment, lucrative contract or not.

Whereas romantics will see this latest development as a sign of Hazard's commitment to Chelsea for the deal's length, it's wide of the mark.

Contracts these days are merely there to hike up the price of a player. Clubs want protection and when they sell to a rival, they need to know they're going to be handsomely compensated.

According to the same Evening Standard report, Jose Mourinho values Hazard at £100 million. By extending his current deal, it increases Chelsea's chances of getting a fee close to that figure should Real act upon their interest and turn Hazard's head.

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 08:  Eden Hazard of Chelsea celebrates after scoring his second goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Newcastle United at Stamford Bridge on February 8, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt
Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Chelsea know how to play the game and so, too, does their Belgian.

Whether Hazard desires a move to Real Madrid or any other club in the future, he has his interests in the here and now to concern himself with. A new deal puts more money in his pocket, cements his position among the club's most important players and gives him considerable clout.

Not only that, it guarantees he will be better off when he moves on. After all, he isn't exactly going to receive a pay cut when switching clubs.

The modern game is about more than what happens on a matchday. It's a business, and the clubs and players who treat it as such are often those who flourish.

Extending Hazard's stay will ensure Chelsea remain among that number, but don't think it's for keeps. It never is.

Garry Hayes is Bleacher Report's lead Chelsea correspondent and will be following the club from a London base throughout the 2013-14 season. Follow him on Twitter here @garryhayes.

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