Eden Hazard was one of the players expected to bewitch The World Cup four years ago. As a top-level footballer, he has a vital role to play at this World Cup in order to survive. Despite barely featuring for Real Madrid this season, Belgian wing-back Timothy Castagne expects Eden Hazard to shine early in the World Cup. After a successful seven years at Chelsea, Hazard, 31, has had a frustration-plagued three years in the Spanish capital where he has failed to live up to his star billing. The Belgian international has struggled to hold down a first-team place or find his best form during this season and has started only two Real matches despite starting six of the team's seven matches since the end of last season.

Hazard's participation in Russia 2018 could not have come at a better time. During it, he would reach the peak of his career at Chelsea. The FA Cup final had just ended with Hazard scoring the winning goal. He scored three goals at the tournament, helping Belgium to third place. It was two goals he scored that led Chelsea to a 4-1 victory over Arsenal in the Europa League final.

Real Madrid paid attention to Hazard's Premier League heroics as they did to Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, and Luka Modric among others. With two brilliant seasons and a prominent role at soccer's biggest tournament, it appeared that the winger would be able to manage the move smoothly. Since then, he has endured the darkest of times.

Hazard has never had an issue with fitness during his time at Chelsea. There was never a season in which he played fewer than 31 games in the Premier League and he regularly played more than 50 games a season across all competitions. His reliability could be summed up in a few words. The injuries started racking up at an alarming rate when Hazard became a part of the team at the Bernabeu after he was transferred from Chelsea.

In a La Liga season, the Belgian has never played more than 18 games for Los Blancos. Hazard made only three league appearances during the first half of this season due to injury, illness, surgery, and a disagreement with head coach Carlo Ancelotti. During his time at the club, he has made just 72 appearances and scored seven goals across all competitions. Throughout Hazard's sad decline on football's biggest stage, we have suffered with the man who once captivated us.

Real Madrid is reportedly considering terminating the contract due to the extreme nature of these issues. Hazard's attention is now focused on the 2022 World Cup. It is important to note that although his influence at the club level has eroded, he remains part of the Belgium squad. In terms of his overall career prospects, the player understands the significance of the upcoming month. In an interview with the media prior to the tournament, he stated, "I have even more desire to demonstrate that I still possess excellent football skills." "I am still capable of playing football regardless of my age."

When Hazard was a World Cup participant four years ago, he was near the top of the list of players to watch. He no longer occupies such lofty positions. The World Cup is, however, football's State of the Union address, as stated in the opening statement. Many clubs will be interested in Hazard if he is capable of reaching his full potential on this large stage.

Even though he is 31 years old, he still has a few valuable years left in him. Depending on Hazard's fitness, he will use them differently, since he is clearly not like the physical specimen he was at Chelsea. Chelsea and Newcastle United are already credited with interest, as are other former clubs. Taking advantage of Hazard's redemption opportunity is up to him.

By Rashmi Goel  

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