Real Madrid’s 2019/20 season finished on August 7, when they lost 2-1 away at Manchester City in the Champions League. While Raphael Varane’s couple of errors stood out in that game, so too did Thibaut Courtois and Kevin de Bruyne. Their Belgian teammate Eden Hazard was much less involved, taken off in the 83rd minute.
Now, this new season has begun with the internationals travelling to represent their national teams before even training one day with their clubs. Courtois, though, was back after three days working with Belgium as he returned to Valdebebas on Friday instead of travelling to Denmark. He had agreed this with his national team coach Roberto Martinez and with Zinedine Zidane. On the other hand, Hazard preferred to stay with Belgium instead of prioritising his club and didn’t even play one minute against Denmark or Iceland.
Hazard’s main problem isn’t his right ankle, which Martinez said will need to be looked after throughout his career. His main problem is that he hasn’t realised how demanding it is to represent Real Madrid, after a first year in which he practically did nothing. He was signed for a huge fee and he was signed to be a star, which is why his lack of commitment is so concerning. He has all the footballing skills he needs, but this mentality could prevent him from succeeding.
The other problem is that while he keeps playing without being in optimal condition, like during last season, he’ll continue to take opportunities away from young players who are showing ambition. Players like Vinicius, but also Rodrygo, Martin Odegaard and Marco Asensio. Zidane could be making a mistake if he prefers to give out minutes by prioritising status over sporting merit and hard work.