Real Madrid aim to prise Eden Hazard and Thibaut Courtois from Chelsea

Sid Lowe
Eden Hazard has said he would only leave Chelsea on a high and Real Madrid believe this summer could be their opportunity. Photograph: Jason Brown/JMP/REX/Shutterstock

Real Madrid intend to make a summer move for Eden Hazard as they seek the latest galáctico at the Santiago Bernabéu. They are also considering a bid for his Chelsea and Belgium team-mate Thibaut Courtois and believe the goalkeeper would be open to the move even though he has publicly stated he does not see himself leaving London.

The Spanish club have prepared a strategy they hope can force through a deal for Hazard and contact has been made with his camp. Madrid do not consider the large number of star players, including the “BBC” of Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo, to be an impediment to his inclusion in the team.

They feel all those players are compatible and, in any case, that they must prepare for a post-Ronaldo era. They would be willing to sell Álvaro Morata and James Rodríguez to facilitate an agreement, which would raise funds and free up space in the squad.

Morata, who has rarely started since he rejoined Madrid from Juventus last summer, is open to a move to the Premier League and may be offered to Chelsea in part-exchange. Last summer Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur inquired about the striker, with Madrid rejecting a sizeable bid from the latter. Chelsea’s manager, Antonio Conte, who signed Morata for Juventus, is an admirer.

Hazard is in negotiations over a new contract with Chelsea and, although that concerns Madrid, they believe he would welcome a move. He has three seasons left on his deal and the Spanish club are keen for him to not extend that.

Madrid hope the desire of the player to join – always a fundamental part of their transfer strategy – and the fact they can offer attractive players in return will make an agreement for Hazard easier to reach.

The coach, Zinedine Zidane, admires the Belgian and there will be elections at the Bernabéu in the summer – which the current president, Florentino Pérez, is virtually guaranteed to win and may not even have to contest. Despite that, he hopes to make a marquee signing, moving towards a new generation. Hazard would be reassured that he would play regularly.

Madrid’s transfer ban, reduced to a single window, has now been served and they intend to bid for Hazard should their plan fall into place. Chelsea look set to win the Premier League and Hazard told the Guardian last November that he would consider moving only after securing the title. “If I ever leave, it’ll be after winning a championship,” he said. “You need to go out on a high so that people remember you for the right reasons.”

Madrid are also looking for a goalkeeper to replace Keylor Navas. Aware of the difficulty of signing David de Gea, who extended his contract at Old Trafford after his move to the Bernabéu broke down at the last minute as the transfer window closed before the start of last season, they have turned their attention to Courtois.

The 24-year-old has said he is happy at Stamford Bridge but Madrid believe he would welcome a return to the city where he played for three years and that the fact that he was at their rivals Atlético does not matter. Courtois’ contract runs until 2019 and a renewal offer is expected in the summer, although he said this week he had not yet heard from Chelsea.

“I don’t see myself at Real Madrid,” he said. “I see myself at Chelsea, the club that six years ago saw me playing in Belgium and gave me the opportunity to sign for them. We will see at the end of the season if they offer me something. For the time being, there has not been an offer. I’m happy in London and I’m delighted with the success we are having this season.”

The summer departure from Madrid of Rodríguez would be no surprise. He has been open about his desire to play more, having played a peripheral role under Rafa Benítez and Zidane. There had been discussions about a departure in the winter window, with the Colombian admitting that he could not guarantee his future in Spain, although he ultimately decided to stay for the time being and will take stock at the end of the season.

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