Real Madrid are battling to sign Chelsea forward Eden Hazard as they seek to replace Cristiano Ronaldo, and bookmakers hope to cash in.
<p>Chelsea are locked in a tug of war with Real Madrid as they bid to hold onto star player Eden Hazard. Los Blancos have sold World Player of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo to Juventus and there is now a gaping hole in their team. President Florentino Perez has identified Hazard as the ideal man to fill that gap, and he is used to getting what he wants. But Perez has rarely encountered a man as powerful as Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich when it comes to transfer negotiations. It will be fascinating to see what happens, and much depends on Abramovich’s ambitions for Chelsea and his appetite to hold onto a key player.</p><p>Sky Bet is now offering 8/13 on Hazard to leave Chelsea this summer, and 11/10 on him staying at Stamford Bridge. <a href="https://a.bookmakersreview.com/record/v?c=132&a=8737f02d-3242-44da-81a6-d0ca444a746b&f=2">Betway</a> is also offering 11/10 on him staying put. <a href="https://a.bookmakersreview.com/record/v?c=132&a=4d1545c6-88ce-4d1a-b541-31ea9e8a0d9b&f=2">Sky Bet</a> and <a href="https://a.bookmakersreview.com/record/v?c=132&a=bced0cf5-be5d-40a4-8446-02910689b2b5&f=2">Paddy Power</a> have a market leading 8/11 on the Belgian joining Real Madrid before the end of the transfer window. But <a href="https://a.bookmakersreview.com/record/v?c=132&a=45a32028-f668-4cc0-b786-c8ac9d4db1f7&f=2">Ladbrokes</a> will only go to 1/3, <a href="https://a.bookmakersreview.com/record/v?c=132&a=87e126f9-4229-4364-9464-7fbff2763146&f=2">William Hill</a> has 2/5 and <a href="https://a.bookmakersreview.com/record/v?c=132&a=c2ed1a45-de32-42ca-ab6a-cf5b6681a105&f=2">Bet Victor</a> is offering 1/2, as the consensus is that Perez will get his man. Barcelona and PSG could gatecrash the party, with Paddy Power offering 25/1 on each of them to capture Hazard this summer. But Barcelona already have Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele, while PSG are under pressure for an alleged breach of Financial Fair Play rules, so it looks like a straight fight between Chelsea and Real Madrid.</p><p>His loss would be a huge blow for Chelsea fans. Hazard has been their best player for many years now, providing the sort of thrust and dynamism going forwards that most teams can only dream of. He has enjoyed a pretty successful spell in west London, winning two Premiership titles, the Europa League, the FA Cup and the League Cup. But Chelsea have not threatened the latter stages of the Champions League for a long time, and they are not even competing in it next season after a fifth-placed Premiership finish. That is simply not good enough for a player of his talents.</p><p>He will also be keenly aware of the meteoric rise to greatness that Ronaldo enjoyed after trading the Premiership for La Liga. Ronaldo was already a Ballon d’Or winner with Man Utd, but his game stepped up several gears at Real Madrid. He broke all manner of goalscoring records, won four Champions League titles and established himself as one of the greatest players of all-time. This year he is on course to overtake Messi as the player with the most Ballon d’Or titles in history.</p><p>Hazard is now in his prime, and he could take Spain by storm. He would be relieved of defensive obligations at the Bernebeu and could concentrate on simply wreaking havoc going forwards. He admitted it could be time for change in a recent interview after Belgium secured a third placed finish at the World Cup. A new challenge might galvanise him, as he is in danger of stagnating at Chelsea.</p><p>The Blues have not been a selling club ever since Abramovich took charge 15 years ago. Instead they have displayed phenomenal ambition, splashing the cash like it is going out of fashion in a bid to rack up silverware. Yet there are fears among the fan base that Ambramovich is slowly falling out of love with the project, and his visa issues have not helped. Chelsea are at a crossroads. Abramovich is easily powerful enough to tell Real Madrid where to go, and then spend £400 million on new players to keep Hazard happy. Or he could bid the Belgian farewell and reinvest, but there would be a lingering sense that Chelsea are no longer one of Europe’s elite clubs. Previously, Ambramovich has always taken the first option, which might embolden</p><p>punters to bet on Hazard remaining at Chelsea. But Perez has pulled off some fantastic coups in the transfer market over the years, not least taking Ronaldo from Sir Alex Ferguson’s clutches, and the majority of the betting action is going on Hazard joining Real Madrid.</p>