Eden Hazard admits that he had made his mind up to leave Chelsea in 2018 – a full year before he ultimately completed his move to Real Madrid.
Speculation swirled over the Belgium international attacker’s future at Stamford Bridge for months before a deal was eventually completed, and the 28-year-old concedes that the reports were not simply a case of smoke without fire.
He was, however, happy to remain with the Blues for a further year, winning the Europa League before completing a £130 million ($167m) switch to Spain.
“I’d already made my mind up after the World Cup and I said to myself: ‘I have to join Real Madrid now’,” he told Real Madrid TV. “That wasn’t possible and I spent another year at Chelsea and that made my departure easier. The club understood it and allowed me to leave.”
Hazard confirms that chats with international colleague, and former Chelsea team-mate, Thibaut Courtois were instrumental in the forward taking the plunge to complete a long-harboured ambition.
“My dream was always to play for Real Madrid, the greatest team in the world, and so far I’m happy,” the former Lille star said.
“Courtois always told me that this was the best club.