It was the news all Chelsea fans feared the most.
Real Madrid announced Eden Hazard was officially joining the club for upwards of £100million, confirming the worst kept secret in football.
It is the most momentous exit from the Premier League since Cristiano Ronaldo made the same trip from Man United when he was at his peak in 2009.
Of course, it’s sad for all football fans that we won’t have the pleasure of watching Hazard ghost past Premier League defenders on a weekly basis, but when a player becomes that good they inevitably end up at Madrid or Barcelona.
Los Blancos may have won an unprecedented treble of Champions League trophies in recent years, however it hasn’t all been plain sailing by any means and this season the problems have come to a head.
In terms of the playing staff, the supporters have been disappointed by a lack of flagship signings, the last being James Rodriguez following the 2014 World Cup, Ronaldo left the club last summer to be replaced with Lyon’s Mariano and Gareth Bale and his place in the team has become the subject of lots of ire among fans and the manager alike.
On the pitch this season has been one of the worst in living memory – they finished a full 19 points behind Barcelona in the league and were uncremoniously dumped out of Europe by Ajax including a 4-1 defeat at the Bernabeu.
However, the arrival of Hazard signals a new Galactico era at Madrid.
The Madrid of the Noughties was defined by having the best players in the world, even if it meant spending a small country’s GDP to secure them.
Zinedine Zidane, Luis Figo, Ronaldo, David Beckham, Kaka… No one was off limits.
Now, when Real need some firepower to return them to Europe’s top table, it looks like those days have returned.
According to reports in the press, Zidane has already spent £230million on new signings this summer and it’s unlikley they will have stopped there.
Alongside the Premier League’s best player Real have swooped for the Bundesliga’s most exciting hitman for some danger up front in Luka Jovic and defensive powerhouse Ederson Militao from Porto.
For a team that had been coasting with established stars, these arrivals should add some serious fireworks to the Madrid lineup.
Luka Modric and Toni Kroos have been a gold standard midfield pairing for years now but it may be time for more incision in the middle of the park.
Enter Christian Eriksen.
The Dane has flirted with a move to the Spanish capital for years and now he has finally said those all important words, “I want to try something new.”
With Paul Pogba almost certainly out of the picture, Eriksen may be the final piece of the jigsaw for the suits at the Bernabeu.
Bringing in Hazard, Eriksen, Jovic and Militao will be considered a success and if one of Neymar or Kylian Mbappe can be convinced to leave PSG then it will be a seriously impressive summer.
Add those two pieces and you might as well start engraving Real Madrid on next season’s Champions League trophy now.
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