Eden Hazard has “earned the affection of his teammates and the club” according to former Real Madrid midfielder Victor Sanchez.
Hazard has endured a difficult time at Real Madrid since arriving from Chelsea in a €146.1 million deal in 2019, surpassing Gareth Bale as the club’s most expensive signing ever.
He is yet to start even 15 games in a La Liga campaign in three full seasons after arriving, and his last goal in the Spanish top flight came back in May 2021, in a 2-2 draw with Sevilla.
Vinicius Junior, Rodrygo and Federico Valverde have surged ahead of him in the pecking order for a place on Madrid’s flanks, and the writing seemed to be on the wall for Hazard after sitting on the bench for 90 minutes twice already this season.
But he was given a chance to impress on Tuesday, replacing the injured Karim Benzema with half an hour gone against Celtic in their Champions League Group F opener.
Celtic were holding their own with the score at 0-0 when Hazard came on. After, Real ran out 3-0 winners with Hazard grabbing the third goal from a Dani Cravajal cutback. It was the strike that garnered the biggest celebration.
“He has earned the affection of his teammates and the club,” former midfielder Sanchez – who made 80 appearances for Real in the late 1990s – told Radio Marca.
“I know that he is a well-liked player within the club, and it shows yesterday in how the rest react to his goal or assist.
“There is also an important attempt from the club so that the player can get back on the same carriage that Madrid is travelling and make things work.”
Hazard’s midweek exploits excited fans on Twitter, with one posting: “A fully fit Hazard is a joy to watch for all football fans.”