Eden Hazard has revealed that he turned down a move to Paris Saint-Germain on more than one occasion before he eventually left Chelsea to join Real Madrid last summer.
The Belgian joined Zinedine Zidane’s side when he left west London in a deal worth an initial €100m – which could rise further based on various add-ons – bringing an end to a seven-year association with the Blues.
It was a saga that rumbled on for countless transfer windows, with Hazard eventually bidding farewell to Stamford Bridge after lifting the Europa League trophy with Chelsea – when they defeated Arsenal 4-1 in the final – in what was ultimately his last match for the club.
While the rumours of a move to Madrid were prevalent throughout his final years with the Premier League side, the 28-year-old insisted that they weren’t the only interested party, and he in fact turned down the approaches of the Ligue 1 giants frequently.
“They often tried to recruit me, but I didn’t want to return to Ligue 1 unless it was to join Lille,” he told L’Equipe. “I always said no to them. It was clear in my mind that if I were to return to France it would be with Lille.”
His start to life with Los Blancos hasn’t gone exactly according to plan, with the forward netting just one competitive goal for the club in an injury-hit start to life in La Liga, although they still remain second in the table. During his early struggles, the Belgian confessed that boss Zidane played a crucial role in maintaining his focus.
“The first two or three months at Real Madrid were not as I wanted them to be,” he added.
“Zinedine Zidane told me to remain calm. ‘Be happy,’ he repeated to me. He goes straight to the point, he loves his players. You feel that the team is happy for him being the coach.”
Hazard also admitted that he was personally at fault for his stuttering start, after confessing he returned from his holidays overweight, although he lost the excess weight shortly after.
“It is true, when I am on vacation, I am on vacation,” he concluded. “Otherwise, I never have a vacation. When I was 18 years old at Lille I weighed 72 or 73kg. Then, when I increased muscle mass, I reached 75kg. This summer I weighed 80kg, but I lost everything in 10 days.”