It’s well established that Florentino Perez likes to fish at a World Cup.
Mesut Ozil and James Rodriguez can attest to that.
In this tournament, in the midst of Cristiano Ronaldo agitating to leave the club, Real Madrid are watching matches with an eye on filling a hole so significant that it seems impossible to do so with just one player.
One such player, however, is Eden Hazard, a player who Zinedine Zidane showed a weakness for, and who’s often been in the sight lines of Los Blancos.
The club are also interesting a player who has been leaving messages every few minutes professing his admiration for the Spanish giants.
If he doesn’t end up playing in Madrid, it won’t be for a lack of trying, both on the pitch and off it.
Real had a particular focus on the first knockout round clash in last season’s Champions League between Chelsea and Barcelona.
Hazard, despite Chelsea impressing in both matches, didn’t stand out and the performance of Willian overshadowed the Belgian.
Chelsea’s No.10 has endured a difficult season in a team that has had a poisonous dressing room, with many players having a rocky relationship with Antonio Conte.
Hazard’s detractors cling to his inconsistency as a way to keep him from a brighter future.
His second chance is the World Cup and he hasn’t wasted it, playing at a high level for Belgium throughout the competition.
Against Brazil he went up a gear.
He was the best player in a historic victory, one which cemented Belgium coming of age and shaking the tag of underachievers.
He stood out on a pitch full of stars, Neymar included, and Brazil felt like they were living through a nightmare trying to defend against him.
In the first half he showed skill, but in the second he demanded the ball and was the only player who could give breathing space to a team that were clearly suffering.
He showed footballing ability and leadership.
Hazard has a handicap in that his position on the pitch makes him incompatible with Neymar in Madrid.
That obstacle looks insurmountable today, but the Chelsea forward’s World Cup isn’t over whilst Neymar’s is.
What if Belgium win the World Cup with Hazard as their star performer?