Zinedine Zidane's instalment as the new Real Madrid manager has increased speculation surrounding a potential move for Chelsea star Eden Hazard to the Bernabeu.
The Belgian has had a poor season with the Blues in 2015-16 and is cutting an increasingly frustrated figure at Stamford Bridge, causing rumours to emerge about a potential departure, per L’Equipe (via James Orr in the Independent).
Will Hazard leave Chelsea for Real Madrid in 2016?
Zidane's appointment in the Los Blancos top job following Rafael Benitez's sacking has sparked further reports suggesting the Frenchman will be eager to add Hazard to his squad as he has previously stated his admiration for the 24-year-old, per Matt Law in the Telegraph.
"I have no doubts he'll be back. After Messi and Ronaldo, Hazard is my favourite player. It is spectacular to see him play. Do I see him going to Real Madrid? I love the player, that's all I will say," Zidane previously said.
The new Madrid boss will have to be very confident that Hazard can re-find his best form if he is going attempt to sign him.
The 2014-15 Premier League Player of the Season has been remarkably ineffective in front of goal, per Opta:
2289 - Eden Hazard has now gone 2289 minutes without a goal for Chelsea in all competitions. Withdrawn.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) January 3, 2016
Bleacher Report's Dean Jones previously predicted that he would leave Chelsea in 2016 to join Real Madrid in an attempt to rejuvenate his career:
Despite his drop in form, Chelsea will undoubtedly be loath to let Hazard go given his immense quality.
He is currently contracted to the club until 2020 and will surely only be moved on if a very attractive offer comes in.
The Welshman had been made the focal point of the Real side under Benitez and there is no guarantee that he will remain the main man with Zidane in charge.
According to Pete Jenson in the Daily Mail, Benitez's departure has increased Manchester United's chances of snapping up Bale, 26, in the summer.
But for Law, the Blues could hold the edge if they are willing to do some kind of swap deal that includes Hazard, as all the interested parties—Manchester City could also be involved—can afford to pay the required £75 million fee.
Either way, Benitez's departure from Real has thrown Bale's future into serious doubt given how he was thriving under the Spanish manager.