Chelsea superstar Eden Hazard is reportedly a doubt for his side's midweek Europa League clash against BATE Borisov after picking up a back injury during his side's 2-2 draw with Manchester United on Saturday.
Much like Barcelona's Lionel Messi, Hazard's ability to strike fear into the hearts of his opponents has seen him become a target for aggressive play in recent seasons. Both Ashley Young and former Chelsea man Nemanja Matić were booked for fouls on the Belgian ace during the match, and his movement was believed to be restricted the following day.
According to the Telegraph, the 27-year-old informed friends he was suffering from back pain following the Stamford Bridge clash - a match in which Hazard was relentlessly targeted by the likes of United wing-back Young. Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri is unlikely to risk Hazard against BATE on Thursday, with Sunday's more important clash against Burnley on the horizon.
It goes without saying that losing Hazard would be a hammer blow to Chelsea's title ambitions; the former Lille man is in the form of his life at present, and gives the Blues a potent and invaluable threat going forward. While Sarri is clearly taking the Europa League seriously, he is likely to rest Hazard on Thursday so as to allow his star player a well earned recovery period.
While rumours - and indeed Hazard's own candid statements - still suggest he will join Real Madrid next summer, he is clearly focused on the title chase with Chelsea for the time being. While his form has not always been the most consistent, Hazard become an icon at Stamford Bridge after wowing Blues fans with his trademark tenacious performances for seven seasons.
Meanwhile, former Chelsea boss Antonio Conte is believed to be Real Madrid's primary candidate to replace Julen Lopetegui as manager. Los Blancos' horrific run of form saw them drop to seventh in La Liga on Saturday, following an abject 2-1 loss to Levante. Conte has already succeeded in Italy and England, and could well look to tick Spain off the bucket list.