Hazard’s underwhelming beginning to the season continued on Saturday against Liverpool, as the PFA Player of the Year was substituted before the hour mark. Chelsea went on to lose the match 3-1.
According to Neil Ashton of the Daily Mail, all is not well between the Belgian and Mourinho, and it hasn’t been for a while:
The Belgium forward tolerated Mourinho’s consistent references to him as ‘the kid’ in his first two seasons at the club, but they have a clear difference of opinion over their approach to the game.
Hazard, among others in the Chelsea squad, is tired of the football politics and criticism, both public and private, that the players have been subjected to by their demanding manager.
The 24-year-old is already determined to force a move to Real Madrid next summer if Mourinho remains in charge at the London club beyond the end of the season.
Hazard has a long-standing ambition to play for the Spanish giants he supported as a boy. He idolises the great Zinedine Zidane, who is currently coaching their nursery team.
Hazard’s poor form has done little to help Chelsea’s cause. Last season, the former Lille man was tipping games the way of the Blues with his silky dribbling, creativity and decisive goalscoring. He won various individual gongs at the end of the campaign, as well as the Premier League title with the Londoners.
Indeed, Mourinho even claimed, relayed by Sky Sports, Hazard enjoyed a better 2014-15 than Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo; since then, as we can see here, courtesy of Breathe Sport, it’s been a huge struggle for the Chelsea man:
As noted by Ashton, it seems as though Hazard is not the only player unhappy with Mourinho, with one quoted by BBC Radio 5 Live as saying he would “rather lose than win” for the manager. The Blues have lost six of their 11 Premier League matches this season and resembled a rabble for long spells of their defeat against Liverpool.
Mourinho has been acting out this season too. He’s already picked up a £50,000 fine and a one-match suspended stadium ban for complaints about referees, reported by Sky Sports. Also, after the defeat to the Reds, the manager repeatedly responded to questions from BT Sport about his team’s performance with “I have nothing to say” (h/t BBC Sport).
If the situation has deteriorated as badly as made out in Ashton's piece, it’s of little surprise Hazard is keen on making a move elsewhere.
However, Kristof Terreur of Hets Laatse Nieuws isn’t convinced the dynamic between Mourinho and the Belgian is quite as bad as is being made out:
Mourinho needs to bank on players such as the Chelsea No. 10 to bail the team out of its current predicament. At the moment, Hazard is on the periphery of matches, and while he may not be playing to his best, withdrawing a player with such talent as early as he did in the Liverpool game is a peculiar move and doesn't paint a picture of a manager putting full faith in a star player.
If Real Madrid do come calling for Hazard, regardless of the managerial situation at Chelsea, you can bet it’s a transfer he will want to go through. Playing for a club as illustrious as Los Blancos is the pinnacle for young attacking players, meaning the Blues could face a major fight to keep hold of their prized asset should the Liga giants make a move.