Eden Hazard open to move to Real Madrid, remains happy at Chelsea
Chelsea's Eden Hazard left open the possibility of playing for Real Madrid someday and said it was "incredible" when he first heard their coach, Zinedine Zidane, praise his game.
Hazard, the two-time Premier League winner, is under contract with Chelsea until 2020. He recently played down comments from his father that suggested the 27-year-old was stalling on renewing his current deal to encourage Madrid to make an offer.
With a shake-up at the Bernabeu quite likely this summer, especially if Zidane's side exit the Champions League early, recent days have seen both Liverpool's Mohamed Salah and Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski linked by Marca to a move to Madrid.
Hazard was featured on the front page of the influential outlet, and asked directly whether he will wear a Madrid jersey at some point in his career, the Belgium international replied: "In football, you never know. I am happy at Chelsea and fully focused with them."
Hazard was more open when talking of how much he enjoyed hearing Zidane speak regularly and admiringly of his ability through recent years.
"I remember 10 years ago when [Zidane] spoke about me for the first time. It was incredible," Hazard said. "He was my hero when I was a boy. I watched thousands of his videos and now he is the manager of one of the best clubs in the world, so yes, it is great.
"But I do not want to stop. I want to keep working, putting in the effort on the pitch, and then I am delighted when people like him talk about me."
Hazard admitted that an out-of-form Chelsea side were outsiders in their upcoming Champions League round-of-16 tie against runaway La Liga leaders Barcelona.
"This season for us is maybe not the same as last year, of course, and they are obviously very good," Hazard said. "But in the end, it is a knockout game and you never know what will happen. That is why we love football. I am sure we can beat them if we all play together. We will see what happens."
Recent defeats against Bournemouth and Watford have all but ended any slim chances Chelsea had of retaining the Premier League title. Hazard admitted that the players "feel bad at the moment" but said that the Champions League and FA Cup offered a chance for a positive end to the season.
"What happens is we won last year and now the fans want us to win this year, too," he said. "But the Premier League is very difficult. We have lost some games this year and we still have three months left. We also still have the FA Cup and the Champions League. The season could even end up a good one.
"We feel bad at the moment, but we must look at things at the end of the season. We give everything on the pitch. Sometimes things do not go as we trained, like now, but we could still win a trophy."
Dermot Corrigan is a Madrid-based football writer who covers La Liga and the Spain national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @dermotmcorrigan