Hazard determined not to be Real Madrid’s latest flop
Eden Hazard admits his first season at Real Madrid has "been bad" but he is confident he will come good during his time in the Spanish capital.
Belgium international Hazard was a long-term transfer target for Real, who eventually signed the 29-year-old from Chelsea last summer for a fee that could rise to as much as £130million.
However, it has been a season of frustration for Hazard, as ankle injuries have limited him to just 15 appearances across all competitions, with his only goal coming against Granada back in October.
The former Lille star is upbeat about ultimately coming good at the Bernabeu and he is looking forward to the resumption of the football calendar coinciding with his return to fitness.
Hazard certainly doesn’t want to end up as a Real flop, but he would not be the first to fail to live up to expectations at the 13-time champions of Europe.
France international Anelka had already developed a reputation for being temperamental by the time he arrived at Real for a reported £22.3million from Arsenal in 1999, with the English press dubbing the then 20-year-old “Le Sulk”.
There was no doubting Anelka’s talent and his first Real goal came in a Clasico against Barcelona, while he also netted twice in the Champions League semi-finals against Bayern Munich.
However, in total Anelka scored just seven goals during what proved his only season in the Spanish capital and he was also suspended by the club for 45 days during that time for, at one stage, refusing to train.
Anelka was eventually sold to Paris Saint-Germain in July 2001, with Real doing well to recoup the majority of the money they originally forked out for the forward.
If Anelka’s brief and unhappy stay in Madrid was at least punctuated by bright moments, the same cannot be said for former Italy star Cassano, who joined from Roma for just €5million in January 2006.
The forward’s first season yielded just one goal from 12 La Liga appearances and he missed out on a place in Italy’s 2006 World Cup squad as a result – the Azzurri went on to win that tournament, beating France on penalties.
Life at Real did not get any better for Cassano during his second season at the club – one goal in seven league appearances – and he was soon packed off back to Italy with Sampdoria.
Arguably the most famous flop in Real’s recent history is English defender Woodgate, who joined Real for £13.4million from Newcastle during the summer of 2004, but the injury-prone defender had to wait over a year to make his debut for the club.
That debut proved infamous, as he scored an own goal and was later sent-off in a La Liga clash with Athletic Bilbao.
A further 13 appearances later and Woodgate’s time at Real was up – the centre-back initially joining Middlesbrough on loan before making that move permanent for just £7million in 2007.