Real Madrid have been dealt a blow in their preparations for the start of the new La Liga season after it was revealed Eden Hazard is set for a spell on the sidelines.
Madrid’s official website announced on Friday that the £90million summer signing from Chelsea had suffered a thigh injury, and as a result he is likely to miss at least Real’s opening three matches of the season, including their first game away at Celta Vigo on Saturday.
The injury means Gareth Bale could be set for a rare start, even though he was close to leaving the club over the summer to move to China.
A proposed transfer to Jiangu Suning was cancelled by Madrid at the last minute, but despite allegedly wanting him out of the club manager Zinedine Zidane said Bale could have a role to play in the upcoming season.
“It looked like he was going to leave and now he’s here with us,” Zidane said.
“Things can change quickly and now I am counting on him. He has a contract, he’s important and I hope he and all the players want to make it difficult for me to choose the team.”
Hazard’s injury is yet another sour note for Madrid after a disappointing pre-season which saw them lose to the likes of Tottenham , Bayern Munich and Roma, and they were also humiliatingly thumped 7-3 by rivals Atletico Madrid.
It remains to be seen whether Zidane decides to give Bale his chance this weekend, with Vincius Junior another player he could turn to to replace Hazard instead.
Zidane refused to comment on speculation continuing to link Manchester United’s Paul Pogba and PSG’s Neymar to the club.
“Paul (Pogba) is a player for Manchester United and we have to respect that. Here we are thinking about the game tomorrow,” he said.
“Neymar is not a Real Madrid player. I have just said the important thing is the people that are here.”