Paul Mariner rates the sensibility of the latest transfer links, including potential comings and goings at Chelsea and Manchester United. The guys react to Eden Hazard's comments about playing for Real Madrid and wonder if Chelsea should begin to make preparations for his departure. Eden Hazard's performances at Chelsea are making him a target for bigger European clubs, according to former Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien.
Eden Hazard has ruled out the possibility of leaving Chelsea for Real Madrid in January.
Speaking after Chelsea's 3-0 win over Southampton on Sunday, Hazard confirmed that joining the European champions remains his "dream" and that he wants to "make it happen," but added that he remains open to talking to the Blues about a new contract.
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Hazard's comments prompted reports in Spain that Madrid could look to test Chelsea's resolve to keep Hazard in January.
But in a news conference on Belgium duty, Hazard confirmed he has no intention of leaving Chelsea in the middle of the season.
Asked if a move to Madrid in January is a possibility, Hazard replied: "No."
Hazard did, however, court further speculation about his future with a teasing reply when asked if he needs to play in Spain to win the Ballon d'Or.
"That's why I want to go, maybe," he said with a mischievous smile.
Chelsea are desperate to keep Hazard, who will enter the final year of his contract this summer and has so far been reluctant to commit to a long-term extension as he waits for Madrid to decide whether or not they will make a concerted effort to sign him at the end of the season.
Hazard has started the new season in the form of his life, and leads the Premier League's scoring charts with seven goals in his first eight appearances under Maurizio Sarri. Sources have told ESPN FC that Chelsea are prepared to make him the highest-paid player in the club's history to stop him leaving for Madrid.
"I'm in a pretty good shape at the moment," Hazard added. "I hope to continue like this for a long time."
But the Chelsea star believes he has even more to give for club and country.
"Honestly, I think I have already been in a better shape than I am now," he said. "Statistically, this is the best season start I ever had.
"But on the pitch, I have already been better at Lille and Chelsea."