When Eden Hazard joined Real Madrid from Chelsea for €100 million in 2019, many believed it would catapult him to the next level.
The Belgian had spent seven seasons at Stamford Bridge and established himself as one of the best players in the Premier League.
But to establish himself as one of the best players in the world - and rival Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo - he needed a move to either Real Madrid or Barcelona.
Real came calling and everyone was excited to see Hazard shine in La Liga.
However, a few months later, Hazard suffered an ankle injury against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League tie after a tackle from Belgium teammate Thomas Meunier. It was an injury that was supposed to keep him out for 10 days but he went on to miss 16 matches in all competitions.
And it’s been stop-start ever since.
He picked up a 'fracture to his right distal fibula' upon his return before he required an operation on his ankle. Then came the coronavirus pandemic.
He’s now back fit but it’s not going well.
On Thursday, Real Madrid suffered a Spanish Super Cup defeat to Athletic Bilbao. Hazard played 67 minutes during the 2-1 defeat before he was substituted.
And his performance prompted Spanish outlet AS to write a pretty damning report on his time at Los Blancos so far.
Highlights of his performance during the loss have emerged and, in truth, it makes it look like his performance wasn’t too bad.
But AS haven’t held back in their assessment.
The headline: “Hazard has no place.”
What follows is a tough read for any Hazard fan.
From “From star to headache” it begins.
On his display against Bilbao, they wrote it was an “anodyne version of the No.7: without influence in the game, incapable of generating dangerous situations, bland and with a tendency to disappear from the field of play with each minute that passes.”
They add: “Eden is going from bad to worse.”
The report highlights a moment in the 12th minute that summed up Hazard’s ineffectiveness.
They described how “he received a ball from Casemiro inside the area, but he clearly didn’t know what to do: Does he shoot, (He only produced one shot in 67 minutes), or force a penalty that never came... it was a constant: he wanted and could not (or did not know), he choked when facing defenders. The bad thing is that he begins to repeat performances like this. And the rumour that he does not deserve to be a starter begins to run through the circles of Madrid fans.”
They conclude: “Madrid awaits him and there is no time. Eden also has no place for now. He is looking for it, but he needs to earn it: with performances like against Osasuna or against Athletic, no short-term solution is seen…”
Hazard’s dream move is turning into something of a nightmare right now.
Even his manager, Zinedine Zidane, admitted he's struggling with confidence.
"He needs to recover confidence, play a great game or score a goal, just to do something different. We know what a great player he is and we need to be patient with him as he is working hard," Zidane told reporters.
"We are behind him and we must give him time. The fans want to see the best version of Eden so we must be patient. We're sticking with him and he really wants to step up. But today it wasn't just Eden, we're all in this together."