It wasn’t entirely unexpected, but Cristiano Ronaldo’s £88m move to Juventus certainly happened quicker than many expected.
Real haven’t announced a replacement, but Chelsea’s Eden Hazard has been strongly linked with the Bernabeu outfit.
It seems unlikely Los Blancos will get Neymar or Kylian Mbappe from Paris Saint-Germain. Reports suggest they could hand the baton to Gareth Bale in the meantime.
But Hazard appears the most likely post-Ronaldo arrival. The Ladbrokes News Team have been wondering how well the Belgian can fill the Ronnie void…
Stats say he’s ideal
Like Ronaldo, Hazard has made his name on English shores. The Belgian has won two Premier Leagues and is widely accepted as one of the most talented wingers in the game.
The stats are remarkably similar too. Ronaldo scored 84 goals and supplied 45 assists in 196 Prem games for Manchester United during six seasons in England. Hazard is on 69 goals and 41 assists in 208 games for Chelsea, also during six seasons.
Hazard did arrive in England as an older and more developed player, but these stats alone do suggest Hazard could fit the void.
Has Hazard got another level?
Question marks remain, however. Ronaldo went to Spain and raised his game to incredible levels. He went from scoring 26 goals in his final season in England, to 53 goals in his second year on the continent.
Has Hazard got that ability? He’s certainly much more of a natural winger than Ronaldo, whereas Neymar and Mbappe would appear better suited.
Hazard would likely thrive playing in a better side, but there would still be some risk on Real’s part if they see the 27-year-old as a like-for-like replacement.
A new era for Real
Real made Ronaldo the main man – and the plan worked. They won four Champions League in five seasons.
But with Julen Lopetegui in the hot seat and eager to forge his own path in a post-Zidane/Ronaldo world, question marks remain over how Real will play this season. It’s a new era in the Spanish capital.
Perhaps there will be no star at the Bernabeu from now on. Perhaps the best way to replace Ronaldo is to not replace him at all?
Real may well sign Hazard this summer, but don’t necessarily expect him to be the man tasked with being Ronaldo 2.0. Madrid may be wise enough to see such a thing may not exist.