Real Madrid signs Eden Hazard from Chelsea

The 28-year-old forward joined Madrid on a five-year contract. (AFP)
Updated 08 June 2019

Real Madrid signs Eden Hazard from Chelsea

  • €100 million fee would make him the club’s biggest signing
  • Real Madrid called Hazard “one of the best players in the world,” known for his “attacking flair, assists and goals.”

MADRID: Real Madrid signed Eden Hazard from Chelsea on Friday for its second major offseason addition, and reportedly its most expensive ever.
The 28-year-old forward joined Madrid on a five-year contract and a transfer fee reported to be around 100 million euros ($113 million) plus variables, which would make him the club’s biggest signing.
Madrid is rebuilding after one of the worst seasons in club history and had added forward Luka Jovic from Eintracht Frankfurt earlier this week.
The Spanish club hadn’t made any blockbuster signings in years and was yet to bring in a top player to try to replace Cristiano Ronaldo after the Portugal forward left to join Juventus last season.
Real Madrid called Hazard “one of the best players in the world,” known for his “attacking flair, assists and goals.”
“Hazard has world class technique, vision, dribbling, pace and finishing,” Real Madrid said. “These qualities saw him stand out in his seven years in England.”
Hazard had already indicated his final game for Chelsea was last week’s Europa League final victory over Arsenal. With two goals in his 352nd appearance for the club, he finished with a total of 110.
“Although it is with sadness we say goodbye to Eden and we made it absolutely clear to him the club wished him to stay,” Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia said, “we respect the decision he has made to take on a new challenge in a different country and follow his childhood dream of playing for Real Madrid.”
Since joining Chelsea from French club Lille in 2012, Hazard has won both the Premier League and Europa League twice, the FA Cup and the League Cup. The Belgium international, who still had a year left in his contract with Chelsea, had already tried to leave the English club a year ago.
“The memories he leaves us with will not fade,” Granovskaia said. “He provided all who watched Chelsea play with great entertainment and many match-winning contributions, and for that we thank Eden enormously.
“He has been a model professional throughout his time at the club, a wonderful individual to have around and a joy to work with.”
Hazard was a standout player with Belgium at the World Cup in Russia last year, helping his team earn a historic third-place finish. He scored three goals in six games and won the man of the match award three times. He was named the tournament’s second-best player, behind Croatia’s Luka Modric, his new Real Madrid teammate.
Hazard is expected to be officially introduced to Madrid fans next week after undergoing a medical.
Real Madrid finished third in the Spanish league and was eliminated early in the Champions League and the Copa del Rey. It went through two coaching changes this season, its first without Ronaldo. Zinedine Zidane returned to the helm a few months ago to try to get the team back on track after winning three straight Champions League titles.
Madrid earlier this year had signed Brazilian defender Eder Militao, who will join from Porto next season. Teenage forward Rodrygo, bought from Brazilian club Santos for nearly 45 million euros ($50.6 million) last year, also will be added to the squad for next season.


Djokovic not worried about blisters ahead of US Open

Updated 25 August 2019

Djokovic not worried about blisters ahead of US Open

  • When the year's last Grand Slam tournament begins Monday, Djokovic will be in Arthur Ashe Stadium during the afternoon session, facing Roberto Carballes Baena of Spain

NEW YORK: During a break in practice two days before opening his US Open title defense, Novak Djokovic pulled off his blue shoe and white sock so a trainer could look at his right foot.

Did it again a little while later.

And then, toward the end of Saturday’s training session in Louis Armstrong Stadium with 2014 runner-up Kei Nishikori, Djokovic stopped a sprint and pulled up short of a ball, raised his right leg off the ground entirely and hopped repeatedly on his left, wincing. Nothing to worry about, Djokovic said later at his pre-tournament news conference: Just blisters.

“A minor thing,” Djokovic called it. “Like anybody has ... Nothing major that is causing a concern for the event.”

When the year's last Grand Slam tournament begins Monday, Djokovic will be in Arthur Ashe Stadium during the afternoon session, facing Roberto Carballes Baena, a 26-year-old from Spain whose career-best ranking was 72nd.

Carballes Baena has an overall career record of 43-50. That includes 2-7 at major tournaments, 1-1 at Flushing Meadows, where he made his debut a year ago and lost in the second round.

Djokovic, meanwhile, has won 33 of his past 34 Grand Slam matches en route to collecting four of the past five major titles. That allowed the 32-year-old Serb to raise his career haul to 16 trophies, putting him just two away from second-place Rafael Nadal’s total of 18, and Roger Federer’s 20, which is the record for men.

He’s not shy about trying to catch those guys.

“More or less everything is about Grand Slams, in terms of how I see tennis and how I approach it, because they matter the most,” Djokovic said. “So I will definitely try to play my best tennis — and aim to play my best tennis — at these events.”

And while many would attribute Djokovic's success to his ability to return serves, say, or his mental strength and propensity for coming up big in the biggest moments — such as saving two match points along the way to edging Federer in a fifth-set tiebreaker in the Wimbledon final last month — there's something else the man himself would point to as his most vital quality.

That's the way Djokovic can cover a court, which is why the state of that right foot is actually a rather big deal.

His movement, Djokovic said Saturday, is "the base of everything" and "the most important thing."

"It just allows you to be more in balance. And at the end of the day, that is what you're looking for as a tennis player," he explained. "How can you hit the ball, being in the right balance, so you can penetrate the ball with the right speed, accuracy and precision?"

Watch Djokovic during a match, and you'll see him change direction in a heartbeat, twist and turn, contort his limbs, slide — on clay, on grass, even on hard courts — always getting to the right spot at the right time.

He attributes his strength in that area to the flexibility of his ankles and is grateful he used to participate in another sport while growing up back home in Serbia.

"I credit my childhood spent on the skis. I used to spend a lot of time skiing," Djokovic said. "That had an effect as well, with kind of coordination and changing movement from one side to another. Even though they're different sports, in essence, you're using some major muscle groups and joints and stuff like this in most of the sports."

It is Djokovic's right elbow that gave him the most trouble a couple of seasons ago.

He missed the last half of 2017, including that year's US Open because that arm was bothering him, then wound up having surgery in February 2018. It took some time for Djokovic to get going after that. All's good these days, though.

"Novak had a couple years where he didn't seem like the same guy," ESPN's John McEnroe said. "Now he's back with a vengeance."

Only 1½ months have passed since Djokovic edged Federer in that classic title match at the All England Club.

Not a lot of time to savor the victory. Not a lot of time to rest a weary body.

"This sport can be a little bit 'cruel,'" Djokovic said, using fingers to indicate air quotes, "when it comes to, I guess, marveling or celebrating your own success. You don't have that much luxury of time to really reflect on everything because the season keeps going."