Eden Hazard could 'try something different' amid Real Madrid links - Roberto Martinez
Belgium coach Roberto Martinez believes Eden Hazard is ready to lead a team anywhere in the world -- and Chelsea teammate Thibaut Courtois hopes the two will continue to play together.
Hazard and Courtois have both been linked to moves to Real Madrid for months, with Hazard hinting at his Chelsea exit after Belgium's third-place game on Saturday and Courtois saying he is worth more than his club's most recent contact offer.
"It could be the best time [for Hazard] to try something different," Martinez told Cadena Ser's "El Larguero" radio show when asked if Hazard would be the right fit for Real Madrid. "He is a player who has maturity and a lot of leadership. His play is based on talent. Hazard could carry a new project anywhere in the world. He is at the best moment of his career.
"For me, it's very easy to answer that question. He could fit in any team in the world. Players need new challenges and new projects. Perhaps it's a good time for [Chelsea] and for Eden [to split]. I would be very surprised if Chelsea didn't have big offers for him right now."
Hazard, who joined Chelsea from Lille in 2012, said earlier this month that playing for Madrid "is everyone's dream."
According to Marca, Madrid will have to make a big-money transfer to sign the 27-year-old, who has two years left on his contract with Chelsea.
"Eden is a player you don't really know until you work with him," Martinez said. "I've been pleasantly surprised. He has such maturity and leadership skills. Eden is one of the few players that exists around the world where his play is based on talent one on one."
But when asked if he knew where Hazard would like to play, Martinez said the two have not spoken about that.
"The focus was on the national team, on giving our best and on having success," Martinez said. "Eden has won three Man of the Match awards of the seven games in Russia. He is competitive. He has been incredibly consistent. I don't think he has any type of preference right now."
Courtois, who has played alongside Hazard since he moved to Chelsea from Atletico Madrid in June 2014, is in the last year of his contract and has yet to sign a new deal.
"Wherever I go, Hazard must come along," Courtois told Het Laatste Nieuws. "We will not let each other go. We'll see. First, holiday, and I'll agree things with my entourage in the meantime."
Courtois said in December that he was contemplating a move back to Spain to be closer to his two children, who live in Madrid.
"I'm going to talk to my agent to see what the possibilities are," he said. "All options are open for me. I may also stay at Chelsea. People always complain that players don't comply with their contracts, but maybe I will.
"I don't think they will keep someone with my qualities on the bench, even if I don't sign. But perhaps that is possible, because I like being in London."