As featured on NewsNow: Football news

The perfect deal? How Hazard convinced Real Madrid & Chelsea to close deal to his tune

COMMENT: In the end it was perfect. Or near enough to it. The ideal way to end an era. A transfer that left everyone involved happy. And one that reflected Eden Hazard's personality. His character.

Roberto Martinez, his Belgium coach, nailed it better than most. With Hazard's move from Chelsea to Real Madrid official, Martinez put into words what we'd seen played out these past few weeks.

"Unfortunately, the modern player has other influences, another way of understanding football," said the Catalan just hours after both clubs had rubberstamped the deal. "I think the beauty of Eden is to see an old-fashioned player with such a modern talent."

Which was just how this move was negotiated.

There was no big reveal. No silly documentary. No hints or winks on social media. Even the sponsors stayed out of it. For once the corporates - and their smug marketeers - not exploiting the situation with some sort of 'reality' campaign at the expense of their client and his relationship with fans.

Hazard made it clear, certainly, that he wanted this deal to happen. But he did it without threats. Without any hints of going slow or downing tools. He simply let it be known what he wanted and stayed on the sidelines.

In the end, even Florentino Perez, the Real Madrid president, caught the bug. Famous (or is that infamous?) for demanding any potential Galactico to publicly declare their wish to join Real. And so putting the player's club on the backfoot in negotiations. Florentino could've made life difficult for Chelsea. Even for Hazard. After all, we'd see this roll out just 12 months previous with Thibaut Courtois' antics post- Russia. The potential to irrevocably damage the relationship between Hazard and the Blues support was there waiting to be exploited.

But the message from Hazard was received and understood. He's not Courtois. His understanding with the club and the support runs far deeper than what his Belgium teammate experienced. For this move to happen, it had to be done right.

And so it was. This column being told by a high level source at Real that Florentino is happy to bite his tongue on this one. The £80m or so up front is correct. As is the claims now in the public arena of the fee rising to "around" the £130m mark. But Hazard will have to do something special for Chelsea to see that full amount. Multiple Champions League triumphs. Multiple Ballon d'Or titles. You get the picture. If their new No7 were to trigger any of these clauses written into this deal, Florentino will only be too happy to oblige. It'll still leave his Real Madrid well out in front.

But make no mistake, Real's president is going against type. These things matter to him. The perception that Chelsea have concluded this deal with the upper hand is not something Florentino would normally allow stand. Just ask Jonathan Barnett. Real's president still holds a grudge against Gareth Bale's agent for revealing he parted with €100m to sign the former Tottenham star. Florentino has long insisted Bale was "never a €100m transfer".

But for Chelsea. Even for Hazard. This is perfect PR. £130m for a player just about to enter the final year of his contract appears a stunning piece of business. But cynicism aside, even at the initial €100m it's still a superb piece of negotiating from the club's prime dealmaker, Marina Granovskaia. Roman Abramovich's No2 deserves the goodwill that has come her way this weekend.

Publicly. And privately. All parties have left the negotiating table feeling good about this deal. And that's in no small way down to Hazard and how he approaches the game.

A week ago this column warned against Real placing demands on Hazard he simply cannot fulfill. The football man. The family man. He'll inherit Cristiano Ronaldo's old shirt number - via Mariano Diaz - but for those in charge of the club's merchandising they must know their new No7 is nothing like the Portuguese. But Real have shown they're capable of pulling back when a player's character demands it. You need look no further than the dugout to confirm Real won't force a player into becoming something he's not.

Zinedine Zidane and Hazard are similar personalities. Almost kindred spirits. It's why Zidane insisted to Florentino that Hazard be signed during those marathon phone calls ahead of his celebrated return.

But the Frenchman will also need to be a buffer. Hazard needs to be allowed to live as he did at Cobham. The sponsors' events. The club functions. Simply being out in front. That's not how Hazard works.

The manner of this transfer was a good start. Real and Florentino listened to the player and did the deal on his terms. If this move is to be a success, for Hazard's sake and Real's, they need to make this approach the norm.

Chris Beattie
About the author

Chris Beattie

Have your say
×

Subscribe and go ad-free

For only $10 a year

  1. Go Ad-Free
  2. Faster site experience
  3. Support great writing
  4. Subscribe now
Launch Offer: 2 months free
×

Subscribe and go ad-free

For only $10 a year

Subscribe now
Launch Offer: 2 months free