Belgium manager Roberto Martinez has suggested that Eden Hazard should leave Chelsea this summer amid interest from Real Madrid.
Hazard played a key role for Martinez’s Belgium in Russia as the Red Devils achieved a third-placed finish by defeating England in the otherwise meaningless playoff.
In the immediate aftermath of the match, Hazard indicated his desire to leave Chelsea and implied that the club ‘already knew’ which club he wanted to join.
And his national team coach Martinez has since weighed in, telling Spanish radio show Cadena Ser that the time could be right for Hazard to leave west London.
‘Players need new challenges and new projects,’ Martinez said. ‘Perhaps it’s a good time for [Chelsea] and for Hazard [to split]. I would be very surprised if Chelsea didn’t have big offers for him right now.’
Real Madrid have made Hazard their top transfer target to replace Cristiano Ronaldo, who sealed a shock £99million transfer to Serie A giants Juventus last week.
Hazard has repeatedly stated his admiration for the club and told reporters during his time in Russia that it was ‘every footballer’s dream’ to play for Madrid.
And Martinez believes the 27-year-old has the necessary quality to walk into any team in world football, three-time defending European champions Madrid included.
‘It could be the best time [for Hazard] to try something different,’ Martinez added. ‘He is a player who has maturity and a lot of leadership. His play is based on talent.
‘Hazard could carry a new project anywhere in the world. He is at the best moment of his career. He could fit in any team in the world.’
Following Belgium’s 2-0 third-place playoff win over England, during which he scored his country’s second, Hazard indicated his desire to leave Chelsea.
‘I will go on holiday and ask myself the right questions,’ the winger said. ‘After six wonderful years at Chelsea, it might be time to discover something different.
Hazard who scored three times in Russia, added:
‘I can decide if I want to stay or go, but Chelsea will make the final decision – if they want to let me go.’