The elephant in the room at Stamford Bridge has Real Madrid’s badge painted on the side.
Eden Hazard has started the season in top form, as good as we’ve ever seen from him.
While the benefits of prime Hazard are obvious (seven league goals and three assists already), such form inevitably turns the rumour mill.
The Belgian No10 has long been linked with a move to Real Madrid, mostly because he’s been transparent about his willingness to play for Los Blancos.
“Real Madrid is the best club in the world,” he told ESPN. “I don’t want to lie, it is my dream since I was a kid.”
“In my head, sometimes I wake up in the morning and think I want to go.
“Sometimes I think I want to stay. It is a hard decision.”
“It is like I have said a lot of times, if I leave I will be happy, I know if I stay I will be happy.”
Naturally, such comments will worry Chelsea fans.
But there’s a lot to be said for his honesty.
Hazard is not a born and bred West Londoner, we can’t blame him for lacking an undying loyalty to Chelsea.
Like many footballers, he has always dreamed of playing for Real Madrid and so if he does leave to fulfil that ambition, he will not have ‘snaked’ the Blues.
Fans often feel animosity towards a departing player because they were deceived — take Fabian Delph’s Aston Villa exit for example.
Hazard could have easily curried favour with Chelsea fans by dispelling the Real Madrid rumours totally.
But that would have been dishonest.
You’d like to think the Stamford Bridge faithful would respect Hazard if he were to sign for Real in the future, because he admired them too much to lie.
Hazard’s honesty is as refreshing as it is surprising, take his recent comments about Jose Mourinho.
The Portuguese manager’s last days at Stamford Bridge were marred by an apparent fractious relationship with his star player.
Hazard’s form dipped in 2015/16 as the wheels fell off Chelsea’s campaign.
Many believed Mourinho’s need for all his players to be defensively disciplined hindered Hazard’s performances.
Perhaps the pair’s relationship is not as bad as we think, however…
Speaking to Belgian newspaper HLN, Hazard said: “If I’m now asked one coach with whom I want to work again, then I say Mourinho.”
“I do not regret many things in my career, but that I have not been able to work with Mourinho at Chelsea anymore [is one].
“We had a team to get a lot of prizes, but we just ended up in a negative spiral.”
Again, it would have been so easy for Hazard to throw Mourinho under the bus he loves to park.
He no doubt knows the wild speculation such comments are could spark in some areas of the media.
There’s no chance of Hazard signing for Mourinho’s Man United anytime soon, but he felt it was right not to hold Mourinho solely accountable for the sticky end to their partnership, and so he spoke out publicly.
“In those twelve years of professional career, I have had one bad year – the last six months under Mourinho, and it was partly my own fault.
“After the title, we had asked Mourinho for extra holidays. I was totally out of shape at the start of the season.
“I remembered that lesson this summer – four weeks after the World Cup I was back in training at Chelsea.”
Honesty is the best policy.