Remarkably for a player who provided 85 goals and 54 assists during his exceptional Chelsea career, Hazard has scored a solitary goal so far for his new side, offering a peripheral presence on the pitch by appearing for fewer than 12 full Liga matches in terms of minutes.
The midfielder has shown a shadow of his menace in the Premier League last season, when he set up 15 goals and almost averaged one of his own every other game as he routinely tortured defences to become Player of the Year at Stamford Bridge.
Despite appearing more regularly in Madrid’s Champions League campaign, the feared playmaker has only added one assist in Europe, contrasting sharply with his role in Chelsea’s Europa League win last season, when he was named as the tournament’s best player award after scoring twice against Arsenal in the final.
Madrid overcame the absence of the potentially pivotal midfielder to earn a 34th title, but there is every chance that they would have sorely missed a player of Hazard’s creative and goalscoring ability had Barcelona not fallen away so dramatically since the restart of La Liga.
Now Hazard has spoken of his frustration, admitting that a season in which he has appeared just 16 times so far has been the low point of his career.
“We have won the title collectively this year,” Hazard told franceinfo of his experience since being given the number seven shirt once worn by Madrid great Cristiano Ronaldo.
“It has certainly been the worst season of my career individually.”
One of the reported reasons why Zinedine Zidane briefly quit the Bernabeu in 2018 was because of the club’s refusal to pursue Hazard ahead of what would be his best season for Chelsea.
“As a coach, he’s just like he was as a player,” said Hazard, who Zidane has been reluctant to risk or judge, frequently warning that he has consistently been less than 100 percent fit.
“He’s a humble person who knows how to say the right thing at the right time. He shows confidence in his players and his players have confidence in him. That’s why it works.”
“We all know what Zidane was like as a player; he was the best. There’s no longer any need to describe him as a coach. He’s proven in the space of just a few years that he’s already one of the best.”
Like Gareth Bale, another quick-footed Premier League arrival, Hazard kept to the fringes of the club’s celebrations at the Alfredo Di Stefano Stadium last week.
Following a hamstring injury that kept him out of Madrid’s first three matches, Zidane’s calls for patience rang true when Hazard scored one and set up another in his third start as Madrid won 4-2 at home to Granada, providing another two goals in the four that followed before a foot injury kept him out of 10 games including El Clasico.
He started half of Madrid’s final 14 Liga matches but never completed 90 minutes and went more than three hours without being involved in a goal at the end of the campaign.
Understandably in what he calls a “weird” season, Hazard would prefer to look ahead to the Champions League round of 16 second leg at Manchester City next month, when Madrid are well placed to reach the quarter-finals thanks to a 2-1 first-leg lead.
“Our season is already very good,” he said. “When you play at Real Madrid, you want to win every possible title.
“The next one has to be the Champions League, even if it’s going to be difficult to play at Manchester City.”
Hazard picked Karim Benzema, the Madrid top scorer who is two league goals behind all-time Barcelona leading marksman Lionel Messi this season, as his player of the season.
“He is very friendly and down-to-earth,” said Hazard. “I think he’s shown once again this year that he’s quite simply the best.
“Then you have Raphael Varane. I’ve come across some fantastic defenders during my career, such as John Terry and Vincent Kompany.
“I think that although [Varane] is still young, he’s already one of the best centre-backs of all time. His partnership with Sergio Ramos is wonderful.
“As for Ferland Mendy, he’s shown he isn’t here just to look pretty. The club signed him because he has qualities which we’ve been able to see.
“It’s never easy to move clubs when you’re young, and especially to join one like Real Madrid. He’s shown that he represents the future.”