Arsene Wenger Feels Weight Issues Are Cause of Eden Hazard's Madrid Struggles

Rory Marsden@@roomarsdenFeatured ColumnistNovember 7, 2019

Real Madrid's Belgian forward Eden Hazard applauds during the UEFA Champions League Group A football match between Real Madrid and Galatasaray at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, on November 6, 2019. (Photo by GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP) (Photo by GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP via Getty Images)
GABRIEL BOUYS/Getty Images

Arsene Wenger believes fitness issues are hampering Eden Hazard's form at Real Madrid.

Hazard, 28, signed for Los Blancos from Chelsea in June for €100 million (£89 million) after a superb final season with the Blues:

His early days at the Santiago Bernabeu have been disappointing, though, with the Belgian netting just a single goal in 10 appearances in La Liga and the UEFA Champions League combined after a hamstring injury delayed his competitive debut. 

Hazard was replaced in the 68th minute of Real's 6-0 hammering of Galatasaray in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday.

Former Arsenal manager Wenger said to beIN Sports that Hazard's struggles are a result of his weight, which was widely discussed when he moved to Real, rather than his being uncomfortable in his new surroundings (h/t Kieran Francis of Goal):

"He is not the type of guy to be [over-awed at Madrid] but I don't know him well enough to assess that. I think it was more down to physical reasons. He became too heavy and what you read in the papers. If you want to make a horse lose a race, you put two kilos on a horse of 500kgs and it's enough.

"I feel we have not seen the Hazard we know in England yet. He was not physically fit after he was injured. He is not a player who is usually impressed by anything. But he looks to me that he doesn't have the same confidence he had at Chelsea."

Hazard was ostensibly signed to fill the gap left by Cristiano Ronaldo's departure.

After the Portuguese superstar joined Juventus in the summer of 2018, Real endured a difficult campaign and registered their lowest goalscoring tally (63) in La Liga since 1999-2000.

Hazard was never likely to match the sheer volume of goals Ronaldo scored—he averaged 50 goals per season over nine campaigns with the club—but the expectation was he would perform better than he is.

The positive for Real manager Zinedine Zidane is that while Hazard is struggling, other players have been stepping up. Against Galatasaray, 18-year-old summer signing Rodrygo netted a hat-trick, and Karim Benzema took his season tally to nine goals:

As a result, Real have made a decent start to the season. And if and when Hazard does discover his best form, Los Blancos will boast one of the most threatening attacks in Europe.

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