Eden Hazard completed his long-awaited move from Chelsea to Real Madrid on Friday and could become the Spanish club’s most expensive signing in their history.
Real said Hazard, 28, had signed a five-year contract.
His contract at the Premier League club was due to expire next year but the Blues drove a hard bargain for the forward, who will reportedly cost Madrid an initial 100 million euros ($113 million), with another 45 million in potential add-ons.
The full amount would trump the 101 million euros Madrid paid Tottenham for Gareth Bale and the 91 million euros they spent to sign Cristiano Ronaldo from Manchester United.
Unveiling at the Santiago Bernabeu is expected next week, once Hazard returns from international duty with Belgium, who play Euro 2020 qualifiers against Kazakhstan on Saturday and Scotland on Tuesday.
It means Madrid’s spending spree is picking up pace following the arrivals of defender Eder Militao and striker Luka Jovic from Porto and Eintracht Frankfurt respectively.
But Hazard is the gem Zinedine Zidane can build his new team around and brings the kind of stardust Madrid fans have craved ever since the sale of Ronaldo to Juventus last summer.
Ronaldo’s departure created a void up front that Madrid failed to fill last season, the team struggling for goals en route to finishing 19 points behind Barcelona in La Liga and crashing out to Ajax in the last 16 of the Champions League.
Hazard, who scored 110 goals in seven seasons at Chelsea, will be expected to help plug the gap has long-been admired by Zidane and Madrid president Florentino Perez.
“We have wanted to sign Hazard for several years and I hope he will come this year,” Perez told Spanish radio station Onda Cero last month.
Less clear is where Hazard will fit into Zidane’s starting line-up. Assuming he plays in his favoured position on the left of a front three, it would mean displacing the 18-year-old Brazilian, Vinicius Junior, who enjoyed a brilliant breakthrough year last season.
Chelsea said the club had tried to persuade Hazard to stay.
“Although it is with sadness we say goodbye to Eden – and we made it absolutely clear to him the club wished him to stay – we respect the decision he has made to take on a new challenge in a different country and follow his childhood dream of playing for Real Madrid,” Chelsea club director Marina Granovskaia said in a statement.