August 16, 2019 8:35:01 pm
Real Madrid’s preparations for the new season hit an untimely snag as marquee signing Eden Hazard was ruled out of Saturday’s La Liga season opener against Celta Vigo after sustaining a muscle injury in Friday’s training session.
A statement from Madrid said Hazard underwent tests after training which revealed he had injured the anterior tendon in his left thigh but did not state how long the Belgian forward would be out of action for.
Hazard, 28, joined Madrid from Chelsea in June for a joint-club record fee of 100 million euros, their most profile signing in a busy close season for the 13-time European champions, who spent more than 300 million euros on new recruits.
Real are also without fellow winger Marco Asensio for the start of the new campaign due to a serious knee injury, while Dani Carvajal is suspended.
In other news, in a press conference ahead of Madrid’s trip to Celta Vigo, manager Zinedine Zidane challenged Gareth Bale to win his place back in the team.
“It looked like he was leaving but now he is here and now I’m going to count on him, just like all the other players that are in the squad,” Zidane said.
“I expect that every player in the team will want to make things as difficult as possible for me when choosing my line-up.”
Aside from Bale, Hazard’s injury could also see Colombia playmaker James Rodriguez make his first competitive appearance for Madrid since he joined Bayern Munich on loan two years ago.
Rodriguez is another player Zidane was believed to be keen on off-loading after being frequently linked with a move away from the club, but the coach said he was happy to have the Colombian back in the squad, adding he was fit to face Celta.
Madrid endured a difficult pre-season campaign, winning only two of seven fixtures and suffering an embarrassing 7-3 defeat to Atletico Madrid, but Zidane said his team were excited about the new campaign.
“At Real Madrid people will always be pessimistic when you don’t play well or don’t win but the league campaign is a different competition and we are feeling completely optimistic,” he said.
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