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Belgium manager insists Real Madrid flop Eden Hazard makes their team better



Photo by VIRGINIE LEFOUR/AFP via Getty Images

Speaking at a press conference ahead of the FIFA World Cup 2022 (h/t MARCA), Belgium manager Roberto Martinez has once again defended his captain and Real Madrid flop Eden Hazard, stating that he makes the national team better due to his talent and experience.

The 31-year-old Hazard has struggled since making the switch to Real Madrid and has completely fallen out of favour under Carlo Ancelotti his season.

Indeed, the Belgian winger has played just over 70 minutes of football in 14 La Liga matches, indicating how badly things are going for him at the club level.

Despite his lack of minutes and struggles to make an impact, Hazard remains a permanent fixture in the Belgium national team setup and Martinez has once again insisted that the former Chelsea ace brings a lot to the table even though he might be lacking in rhythm.

“Eden’s situation has changed a lot. We do not follow Eden to see what rhythm of the game or what intensity it has. We focus on the talent he has and the experiences he accumulates with the national team,” Martinez said.

“He is the captain, he has great influence over the rest and has shown great commitment. For me, that is the most important thing. We are aware that we are a better team when Eden is in our locker room.”

These comments came after Hazard stated in Belgium’s friendly encounter against Egypt on Friday. The Real Madrid star played seventy minutes against the African nation but failed to make any sort of impact.

But Martinez insisted that the team have a specific plan to help Hazard get through the World Cup, saying:

“The rhythm of the game and the minutes that he plays with Real Madrid can change his physical level in a tournament in which there are so many games in a short space of time. We have a very individualized plan to get the most out of a player who is very important to our team.”

Further discussing Hazard’s importance to the Belgium side, Martinez cited the fact that the 31-year-old is one of very few players to have more than 100 caps for the national team.

“I know that there will always be debate and that in a national team it is seen that the players are at a good level in their clubs, but with Hazard, we no longer value this situation. He is one of eight Belgium players to have over 100 caps,” the former Everton boss said.

“His role in the national team goes far beyond what he does on a day-to-day basis. We have confidence and blind faith that his talent, experience, and attitude make us a better selection.”

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Real Madrid News

Real Madrid could be in trouble with RFEF if too many Spanish players leave



It is astounding that despite being the biggest club in Spain, Real Madrid do not have many Spanish players to show for it.

Los Blancos do indeed boast of a special diversity in the dressing room, but their lack of locally trained players could pose problems according to MARCA.

The Spanish outlet confirms that UEFA does not mandate the inclusion of any minimum number of locally grown players for a club. However, the Spanish federation stipulates that a club in Spain must boast of at least eight players who meet a specific set of conditions.

Of the aforementioned eight candidates, there must be at least four players who have spent three seasons or 36 months at the club between the ages of 15 and 21.

Currently, only Nacho Fernandez, Dani Carvajal, Lucas Vazquez, Federico Valverde, Vinicius Jr, Rodrygo and Mariano make up the required number on that front.

The problem, however, arises with the condition for the other four players in the list of eight. RFEF stipulates that the second set of four players must have completed at least 36 months in teams attached to the federation of Spain between the ages of 15 and 21.

Only Jesus Vallejo, Alvaro Odriozola, Marco Asensio and Dani Ceballos tick the aforementioned box. However, all four players have uncertain futures at the club and are well-placed to depart in the summer.

There are thus big decisions to be taken over the transfer strategy for June. Real Madrid can work ways to ship all four players out, it would require the re-integration of players like Sergio Arribas, Miguel Gutierrez or Fran Garcia to ensure the fulfilment of the criteria.

With both Vallejo and Odriozola seemingly frozen out of Ancelotti’s plans, their departures from Santiago Bernabeu appear inevitable. Thus, the management could be forced to renew one of Asensio or Ceballos come June.

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