Hazard leads incomplete revolution
Salzburg's Rasmus Kristensen (bottom) in action against Real Madrid's Eden Hazard (up) during the friendly soccer match between FC Red Bull Salzburg and Real Madrid in Salzburg, Austria, Aug. 7, 2019. EPA-EFE FILE/CHRISTIAN BRUNA
Madrid, Aug 13 (efe-epa).- The arrival of the much-awaited Eden Hazard as a new icon of Real Madrid’s new project leads an incomplete revolution that seems to be far from satisfying French coach Zinedine Zidane, who is waiting for more signings and departures.
Hazard is tipped to inherit the leadership of Cristiano Ronaldo, as he did with the Portuguese star’s No. 7, but no one managed to fill his shoes, something mirrored in a catastrophic season.
After Madrid failed to clinch a title in the past season, Zidane returned to take the helm on a promise to introduce several changes.
On his shoulders fell the responsibility of building the team, notifying some players that they have fallen out of favor with him and asking those who remain to stick with the playing style he seeks to implement.
With a few days to go before the season gets underway, Zidane’s most desired signing has not materialized, Paul Pogba.
Gareth Bale and James Rodriguez, meanwhile, are still in the squad despite the coach explicitly calling for their departure.
Zidane’s decisions had an impact on young players who did not fit in his project and they had to leave.
The list includes Marcos Llorente (who joined Atletico Madrid), Dani Ceballos (Arsenal), Sergio Reguilon (Sevilla) and Jesus Vallejo (Wolverhampton).
By contrast, Hazard joined the Spanish club, where he hopes to claim the UEFA Champions League and be decorated with individual awards the best players in the world have earned.
After his spell at Chelsea, Hazard needed a new, big challenge and getting Madrid back to the titles track seemed an irresistible one for the Belgian.
Hazard, however, is not the only signing Madrid has struck during the summer transfer window, as other young players inked with the Spanish powerhouse to reinforce some weakness.
Ferland Mendy will compete with Marcelo for a spot in the starting lineup as a left back, Militao will be an alternative to Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane in the defense line and Luka Jovic is projected as the missing piece beside Karim Benzema.
The club’s policy to signing young players continued, this time with Rodrygo and Kubo joining Madrid.
Van de Beek is another player who has been linked with a move to Madrid, alongside either Pogba or Neymar.
Pending the last moves ahead of the upcoming season, Zidane has been testing several lineups, resulting in more doubts about the team.
Madrid lacked a much-needed spark of hope across its preseason matches.
It earned just two wins - against Fenerbahçe and Red Bull Salzburg - while it was handed a heavy 7-3 defeat by its cross-town rival Atletico Madrid.
Madrid fell short against Bayern Munich and Tottenham Hotspur, while it was held to a draw by Arsenal and Roma.
The final result has summed it all up, as Madrid has conceded more goals (18) than scored (14) for the first time in its history.
The worst news the preseason had up its sleeve was Marco Asensio’s severe injury.
He was hoping to make the most of the second chance he had after failing to show leadership as he was expected to last season.
However, he suffered a tear to his left knee’s anterior cruciate ligament, which will sideline him for practically the whole season.
With the unexpected setback and fewer changes than previously expected, Zidane has tried a playing system featuring three central defenders to restore balance as alternative to his 4-3-3 playing system.
He is awaiting the Neymar case to be resolved, a new player to join the team and those unwanted players to leave the club. EFE-EPA