MADRID (AP) — Eden Hazard donned Real Madrid’s all-white kit for the first time Thursday as the Belgium forward was presented to tens of thousands of fans at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium following his club record transfer from Chelsea.
“It was my dream since I was very young to play for Real Madrid, and now I am here and I only want to enjoy the moment,” Hazard said after passing a medical exam and signing a five-year contract with club president Florentino Pérez. “I can’t wait to start playing with Real Madrid in this shirt and win many titles.”
After changing his gray suit and tie for Madrid’s shirt and shorts, Hazard kicked several balls to spectators packing the stands.
Madrid announced last week that it had acquired the 28-year-old playmaker from Chelsea for a reported fee of around 100 million euros ($113 million) plus add-ons, making him the club’s most expensive signing ever.
Hazard will be tasked with becoming the leader of the 13-time European Cup winner since the exit of Cristiano Ronaldo last summer. Without Ronaldo, Zinedine Zidane’s side failed to compete for any major title.
Madrid hopes that Hazard can provide the missing link between midfielder Luka Modric and striker Karim Benzema to produce the goals that dried up following the exit of Ronaldo.
Hazard helped Chelsea win the Premier League and Europa League twice, the FA Cup and the English League Cup. At last year’s World Cup he led Belgium to a third-place finish.
Pérez, who had not made a major signing in several years, has spent big in recent weeks to revamp his squad.
Besides Hazard, the club has spent at least another 100 million euros on forward Luka Jovic and left back Ferland Mendy. It also plans to incorporate defender Eder Militao and forward Rodrygo, signed during the last two seasons.
But Hazard is the key piece to Zidane’s plans to return Madrid to the top.