July 26, 2020 / 6:56 AM / 10 days ago

Real's Hazard has sunk under weight of expectations, says Capello

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - La Liga Santander - Levante v Real Madrid - Estadi Ciutat de Valencia, Valencia, Spain - February 22, 2020 Real Madrid Eden Hazard reacts after he was substituted as coach Zinedine Zidane looks on REUTERS/Jon Nazca

(Reuters) - Eden Hazard has struggled to deal with the weight of the Real Madrid shirt following his high-profile move from Chelsea, former Real manager Fabio Capello has said.

Hazard joined the Spanish club from Chelsea on a five-year contract for a reported 100 million euros (91.13 million pounds) ahead of the 2019-20 season.

The Belgium international inspired Chelsea to two Premier League trophies during his time at Stamford Bridge but has failed to hit similar heights in Spain, with injuries limiting him to 21 appearances in all competitions this season.

“He hasn’t been the player he was at Chelsea and he was injured for a long time, he hasn’t adapted,” Capello told Marca.

“I’ve always thought of him as a great player but the Real shirt weighs heavily and Hazard has sunk this year. It’s clear that he’ll be better next season,” added the Italian, who led Real to two La Liga titles.

With Hazard struggling for form, the onus was on Karim Benzema to shoulder the goal-scoring responsibilities and the French striker enjoyed one of the best seasons of his career, netting 21 league goals and firing Real to a record-extending 34th La Liga crown.

“He’s become a benchmark for Real. He has taken on responsibility that he didn’t have when he played with Cristiano Ronaldo, he has a nose for goal and he’s shown it,” added former England coach Capello.

Reporting by Arvind Sriram in Bengaluru; Editing by Sam Holmes

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