Eden Hazard bid farewell to Chelsea with a man-of-the-match display in Wednesday’s Europa League triumph and captain Cesar Azpilicueta hopes his friend’s “dream” move to Real Madrid brings many more trophies.
The 28-year-old has established himself as one of the finest players in the world since swapping Lille for Stamford Bridge in 2012, winning admirers and medals aplenty in the process.
Hazard has long been linked with a move away from Chelsea and is now set to complete his transfer to Real Madrid on the back of a memorable farewell appearance.
The attacking midfielder scored two goals and set up another as Maurizio Sarri’s Blues blew Arsenal away 4-1 in Baku, a match the Belgian admitted could be his “goodbye” to Chelsea.
It is a matter of when rather than if Hazard makes his exit and Chelsea skipper Azpilicueta will miss his team-mate.
“(It’s) very sad,” the Spaniard said.
“He is an amazing person, an amazing player. He has been a very important part of our team. He’s a very good friend of mine, we’re very close.
“We arrived here seven years ago together from France (with Azpilicueta joining from Marseille) and you know if that moment comes obviously I will be very sad.
“Honestly, the times that he had to cope with the rumours….
“He always showed his desire not to sign for an English team, even if he could have better contracts.
“He has never been a selfish person. He always had this dream to play for Real Madrid and we will see what happens.
“But I think he has been very honest until the last day. That’s why the fans love him because he didn’t play with the club, he didn’t move for another contract.
“He just always gives his best. He was very clear with the club and that’s why the club is also happy with him.
“Obviously it is a big opportunity for him. He has been amazing for us and I hope he still wins trophies in Real Madrid.”
The fact Hazard leaves with so much warmth from all connected to Chelsea speaks volumes about a player and person that defender David Luiz knows better than most.
“Everybody knows who is Eden Hazard as a person, as a player, as a friend,” the Brazilian defender said.
“I just wish him all the best – if he stays with us, if he doesn’t stay with us.
“He is someone who did great things for this club, for football. He’s someone everybody else in football knows and he has been my friend for a long, long time.
“I love him. I just wish him all the best.”
N’Golo Kante echoed Azpilicueta and Luiz’s kind words after sealing Europa League glory alongside Hazard in Baku.
“It’s not sad,” Kante told Sky Sports.
“I think Eden did an amazing job, had an amazing time with Chelsea. He stayed here a long time, he won many trophies. He played amazing tonight.
“We are happy for him. I don’t know what is going to happen next, but we can only wish him the best because he did a lot for Chelsea. It was a pleasure to play with him and we’ll see what happens.”
Stay updated with the latest news, gossip and football stories by following us @Football_P