the purgatory of Eden Hazard, Belgian captain in distress

Belgium captain Eden Hazard at a press conference ahead of the World Cup in Qatar, Monday November 14, 2022, in Tubize, Belgium.

“I prefer to lose with this Belgium than to win with this France. » On July 10, 2018, at the stadium in Saint Petersburg, Russia, Eden Hazard was bitterly defeated after a tense and lost semi-final by the Red Devils on a skimpy score (1-0 for the Blues). Words spoken in the heat of the day, which above all reflected the immense disappointment of coming close, very close to a World Cup final.

Lucid, Eden Hazard will also say: “We were good for ninety minutes, we had control of the game without being dangerous. » That evening, the Belgian, number 10 in the back, captain’s armband around his arm, had multiplied the dribbles to try to break the lock of the tricolor defense. In vain.

Four and a half years later, Belgium is in contention in Qatar, but water has flowed under the bridges of the Meuse. Seeing the Red Devils again in the last four of the competition would be a surprise because the collective of the selection has aged (in defense, Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld are 35 and 33 years old). In addition, Gone are the days when Eden Hazard was one of the greatest players in the world.

Read also: Qatar 2022: the “unofficial” sheet of the Belgian team

At 31, the Real Madrid player spent almost the entire start of the 2022-2023 season screwed on the substitutes’ bench, in line with the three previous years. “I’m kind of at an impasse”recognizes the Walloon before the competition in Qatar.

Lost from sight since his transfer to Real Madrid

Trained in Lille, voted best player in the French championship twice (2010-2011 and 2011-2012), the winger then shone in the colors of Chelsea, England. Collecting titles with the Blues and individual awards, he then realized his dream by signing for Real Madrid, then trained by his idol: Zinédine Zidane.

This is the summer 2019 transfer. Estimated amount of the transaction: 115 million euros. Since then, the player’s value has plummeted (the benchmark site Transfermarkt estimated today at 7.5 million euros). If his club won the prestigious Champions League on May 28 at the Stade de France, we hardly saw the Belgian on the pitch during his stunning career. “For me, I didn’t really win the Champions League”he confided in an interview with The Team last week.

Read also: Champions League: Eden Hazard and Real Madrid, the story of a failed meeting

Criticized by the Spanish press upon his arrival for his overweight, blocked by injuries, Eden Hazard has never expressed the full extent of his talent with the Merengues. “He had surgery in the United States. He was put on a plate in his right ankle, which was later removed.”recalls Frank Van de Winkel, author of the biography Eden Hazard. Between the lines (Racine editions, 2018).

Consultant for RTBF, Alexandre Teklak knows the prodigy who grew up in Braine-le-Comte well. Asked by The world a few months ago, he made this painful observation: “Eden has always based his game on a very high explosiveness, but he was forced to change because he lost his kidneys to eliminate defenders with injuries.. He has become a kind of midfielder in the last thirty meters. However, in this area, it is necessary to make differences, and that, he is unfortunately no longer capable of it. He is afraid of pushing too hard. This is symptomatic of players who chain physical glitches. »

” I am sorry. I try, but…”

Finally, Eden Hazard himself seems resigned to the idea of ​​​​not winning at Real Madrid. ” I am sorry. I’m trying, but… I’m not playing, I want to play more… I’m really sorry, I’m sorry for what happened”he said in an interview with the Spanish newspaper brandpublished on November 15. A departure next summer for a lesser club seems inevitable.

Despite his downgrading in the club and the competition, in the Belgian jersey, from Leandro Trossard (very prominent at the start of the season on the side of Brighton, in the English championship), Eden Hazard retains his status as titular-captain with the coach. Roberto Martinez.

When a journalist asked the player, in conference, Monday, November 14, a week before playing his third World Cup: “If you were coach, would you start in the Belgium team? »the interested party pleaded his case by recalling his CV: “On what I’ve done for the past two years, no. Over my last fifteen years and what I have done in the national team, yes. »

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This would be precisely the limit of the current national team, estimates Jonathan Ghislain, representative of the group of supporters Belgium Ultras: “The coach, Roberto Martinez, has too much respect for his elders to replace them”, he regrets, citing the case of number 10, but also of Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld in defense.

For this faithful of the Red Devils, who chose not to attend the World Cup in Qatar, “we always talk about what Eden Hazard did, but today he has the level of an average player”. An observation supported by the performance of the winger during the last preparation match of the Red Devils, lost against Egypt – a selection not qualified for the World Cup – on November 18. Aligned for seventy minutes, Eden Hazard was only the shadow of the player who had shone at the World Cup in Russia.

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