Real Madrid will reportedly cash in on playmakers James Rodriguez and Isco this summer, with Chelsea man Eden Hazard touted as a possible replacement.
That’s according to Carlos Carpio of Marca, who claimed the Real midfielders are both under the microscope, with their “commitment” to the cause said to be in doubt. “The last three months of the campaign will, among other things, be a test to decide on James and Isco's fates,” Carpio wrote.
A similar story appears in AS from Sergio Santos Chozas, who also says the two aforementioned players are on the chopping block. “The club has not been impressed with the attitudes of either midfielder and the fans’ vitriol during the Madrid derby points to one or even both of them being shipped on in the summer,” he claimed.
Additionally, Kristof Terreur of Het Laatste Nieuws noted that Marca also claimed Hazard has been mentioned as a player who could fill the void should they depart.
Since Zinedine Zidane took over in Madrid, there’s been a running debate over whether he would prefer to use Isco or Rodriguez in his starting XI. Having opted for the former in his first games in charge, both have been called upon lately due to an injury to Gareth Bale.
While there are subtle differences between the two, there are many stylistic similarities. Both players seek out pockets of space in the attacking third, look for link-up attacking moves and thread delicate passes into the feet of Real’s dynamic forwards. When this team is at its best, it’s typically got a thriving Isco or Rodriguez at its crux.
However, as we can see courtesy of Sport Witness, the local press has not been happy with the recent performances of either player:
James and Isco are the worst culprits say Madrid based AS. pic.twitter.com/I6i1Vw41IJ— Sport Witness (@Sport_Witness) February 28, 2016
If Real were to sell both, a substantial amount of money would be recouped, and that could potentially allow them to pursue Hazard.
Granted, the winger has not enjoyed the best season at Stamford Bridge, with the form that saw him win the 2014-15 Professional Footballers' Association Player of the Year a mere memory at the moment.
But there is no denying the quality he possesses, and should the Belgium international make a move to Real Madrid, it could well be the trigger for him to rediscover his form.
And even though he’s been a long way from his best, as WhoScored.com recently noted, Hazard has still been one of the most creative players in the Premier League:
Most chances created from open play in the PL this season:— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) February 19, 2016
Payet / Sissoko (45)
Which players should Real consider selling this summer?
While Real are well stocked when it comes to attacking options, selling both Rodriguez and Isco would be a drastic measure. Granted, neither has been in particularly good form as of late and their demeanour on the field hasn’t been positive, but they each have attributes that are otherwise scarce in this Los Blancos squad and beyond.
Replacing their cerebral talents would certainly be difficult, although Hazard could potentially do so. The former Lille man can marry dynamism and intricacy brilliantly when at his best, and alongside the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Bale, he could shine.
Still, Chelsea would surely be reluctant to let a footballer of his calibre leave for anything other than a stratospheric sum.