Dani Ceballos insists he has not given up on his Real Madrid "dream" despite being sent out on loan to Arsenal this season.

Spain international Ceballos joined Madrid in 2017 after emerging as one of LaLiga's most promising talents at Real Betis, but he struggled to secure regular football under Zinedine Zidane.

After Zidane's departure, Ceballos began to play more regularly for Julen Lopetegui and Santiago Solari, but that did not continue when the Frenchman returned in March.

He was allowed to leave for Arsenal on loan and has shown flashes of his ability in London, with Gunners fans quickly taking to the playmaker.

Though it seems they should not get used to his presence, as he still sees his long-term future at the Santiago Bernabeu.

"When I don't play, I don't enjoy myself," he told Radio Marca. "These two years [at Real Madrid] I've learned a lot from the club, but now I'm enjoying it [football].

"I knew it was an important year, the coach has doubts and he who doesn't play doesn't go [to Euro 2020], so it was a good time to go on loan.

"With [Arsenal coach Unai] Emery's confidence I may have many chances to be in the Euros squad.

"I never thought about going permanently. My goal is to succeed at Real Madrid. I will fight to fulfil my dream."

Martin Odegaard is another Madrid-owned player thriving on loan this season, with his performances at Real Sociedad marking him out as one of LaLiga's standout stars in 2019-20.

Ceballos has consequently come to the conclusion it might be a good season to be away from Los Blancos.

"You're seeing that maybe it wasn't the year to play for Real Madrid," he added. "It has been a very successful decision [for Odegaard], he has a lot of room for improvement.

"From now to the next few years, he will be a very important player for Real Madrid."

Euro 2020 is not the only international tournament Ceballos hopes of featuring in over the next year, as he will do everything he can to get Madrid to approve his decision to play at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

"It's something that I may not play in my life again," Ceballos said. "I would put my dream on the table to the club.

"I have spoken with people from the [Royal Spanish Football] Federation who know that I would like to go, I would be delighted. I want to go to the Olympics and to the Euros.

"There are two tournaments that demand a lot of responsibility. I don't care if I don't have a holiday. I'm 23 years old and I'll rest when I'm older."

Another day, another rumour about Christian Eriksen.

The soon-to-be free agent Eriksen wants a new challenge after flagging his intent during the previous transfer window.

A move to LaLiga appeals and a Spanish giant from the capital are reportedly ready to pounce.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID EYE ERIKSEN 

AS and Marca claim Real Madrid are ready to make a move for Tottenham midfielder Christian Eriksen in January.

Eriksen is a free agent at the end of the season, and the Spurs star has been linked to the likes of Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Juventus, Manchester United and Inter.

However, Madrid are reportedly unwilling to wait until season's end as they look to strengthen their midfield.

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Inter are eyeing Manchester United midfielder Nemanja Matic, says FC Inter News. Matic has found himself out of favour under United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and a switch to Serie A could be on the cards for the Serbia international, whose contract expires at the end of the season.

- According to Calciomercato, Serie A champions Juventus are looking to sign Chelsea full-back Emerson Palmieri. The Italy international worked with Maurizio Sarri during the former Chelsea boss' time at Stamford Bridge.

Massimiliano Allegri has handed United a "deadline" for him to be given the job at Old Trafford, says La Gazzetta dello Sport. Solskjaer is under growing pressure, with the Red Devils enduring a difficult season and former Juventus boss Allegri has emerged as a possible replacement.

- Arsenal playmaker Mesut Ozil fears he has played his last game for the Gunners, according to the Mirror. Ozil has struggled to establish himself since Unai Emery's arrival and the former Germany international has been linked to MLS outfit DC United and Turkish giants Fenerbahce.

- Le10Sport claims former Chile, Sevilla and Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli is on the shortlist to fill the Lyon vacancy following Sylvinho's sacking. Sampaoli is in charge of Brazilian side Santos.

- Gianluca Di Marzio reports Claudio Ranieri is in the mix to take over at Sampdoria, who sacked Eusebio Di Francesco prior to the international break. Ranieri – who sensationally led Leicester City to Premier League glory in 2015-16 – last oversaw Roma on a temporary basis last term. Ex-AC Milan coach Gennaro Gattuso reportedly turned down the job.

- Manchester United are among the admirers of rising Mexico star Sebastian Cordova, reports Record. The 22-year-old America playmaker made his international debut for El Tri last week. The attacking third and midfield are areas of concern for United, who have also been linked to Barcelona's Ivan Rakitic and Juventus striker Mario Mandzukic.

Gareth Bale admitted to playing with "anger" amid uncertainty over his Real Madrid future heading into Wales' Euro 2020 qualifier.

Zinedine Zidane told Bale he was free to leave during the transfer window, however, the Wales star remained in Madrid to force his way into the team.

Bale has scored two goals and supplied two assists in LaLiga this term, though there has been reports claiming the 30-year-old wants to depart the Spanish capital at season's end.

Speaking ahead of Thursday's qualifier against Slovakia, Bale said: "You play with a lot of emotion. Anger comes into it of course, but I haven't got anything to clear my mind about.

"I try and give my best whether here [with Wales] or in Madrid and I will continue to do that."

Wales manager Ryan Giggs added: "I think now, looking from the outside, things have improved. The way that he's playing - which is all that footballers want to do, they want to play, they want to get minutes, they want to do well - I've always said he's at a fantastic club.

"Of course, it would have unsettled him because it was apparently very close for him going.

"But things might have changed. Things do change quite quickly in football and now he's playing, he's loved, he's happy, and I expect him to carry on doing what he's doing for Real Madrid.

"If Gareth Bale is at your club and he's training well and he gets the chance to play, he's always going to keep you interested because he can turn a game on its head, he can score goals and he's such an asset.

"So I'm not surprised in that respect. I was surprised with what happened in the summer - I think everyone from the outside thought it was a bit strange, but it seems like everything has gone a bit quiet now.

"I think that's all you ask for - for players to be in good form for their clubs and then take it into the international arena."

Wales head to Trnava fourth in Group E in Euro 2020 qualifying, four points adrift of leaders Croatia and three behind second-placed Slovakia.

Belgium boss Roberto Martinez has dismissed concerns about Eden Hazard being overweight at Real Madrid.

A report in Sport in July claimed Hazard was seven kilograms too heavy when he joined up with the Madrid squad for pre-season duty.

The Belgium star has found it difficult to kick-start his career in LaLiga since joining from Chelsea in the transfer window, only scoring his first goal for the club in last weekend's 4-2 defeat of Granada.

Martinez, though, does not believe Hazard's physical condition is a particular concern given the talent he has.

"He is a really calm person, not someone who looks for individual glory," he told Deportes Cuatro."Whether he's carrying weight or not, Hazard can break past and unsettle defences and make a difference.

"His innate talent doesn't depend on whether his weight is this or that."

Martinez also spoke in defence of goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.

The 27-year-old was taken off at half-time of the 2-2 Champions League draw with Club Brugge with what Madrid described as a stomach problem.

The club was forced to deny Courtois had become ill due to anxiety, having conceded twice to Brugge in the first half to compound a difficult run of form at club level.

Martinez says Courtois is still recovering from illness and insists he is the world's best in his position.

"It wasn't true that he had anxiety," Martinez said."He is still feeling the effects of a stomach bug and needs to regain a kilogram or two. That's what can happen with a stomach bug.

"He is a player who dreamed of playing for Real Madrid from a young age and he is ready to define an era there. I am convinced that he is the best goalkeeper in the world."

Ousmane Dembele will miss the first Clasico of the season after being handed a two-match ban by the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF).

The Barcelona winger was sent off in the closing minutes of the 4-0 LaLiga win over Sevilla last Sunday after confronting referee Antonio Miguel Mateu Lahoz, who had just given debutant Ronald Araujo a red card for a foul on Javier Hernandez.

According to the referee's match report, Dembele said to him, "Very bad, you are very bad", as Barca players surrounded him to argue against Araujo's dismissal.

Barca appealed against Dembele's red card but the RFEF has dismissed their case and given the France international a two-game ban.

He will therefore sit out the trip to Eibar on October 19 and then the visit of Real Madrid to Camp Nou on October 26.

Araujo has been banned for one game, as has Gerard Pique, who has collected five bookings this season. Both will be available to face Madrid.

Dembele has made three LaLiga appearances this season and scored his first goal of 2019-20 in the defeat of Sevilla.

Barca are two points behind league leaders Real Madrid after eight matches.

Neymar signing for Real Madrid was a prospect Lionel Messi feared was about to become a reality.

The Brazil superstar featured in a lethal front three alongside Messi and Luis Suarez at Camp Nou before joining Paris Saint-Germain in a world-record €222m move two years ago.

Reports of Neymar wishing to return to LaLiga have been frequent since then and an 'MSN' reunion was mooted during the close season.

But with Barcelona unable to put together a package to make the deal happen, Messi worried his old team-mate would end up pulling on the famous white shirt of their sworn rivals.

"I honestly thought that in this market, if he did not come here, he would go to Madrid, because I really thought he wanted to leave," five-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi told RAC1.

"He said it, he wanted to change, to leave Paris. I thought that Florentino [Perez, Real Madrid president] and Madrid would do something to take him away."

Barcelona still boast a plethora of elite forward options.

Messi is back to fitness after a calf problem delayed his start to the 2019-20 season, while Suarez came through a period of criticism to score four times in the space of eight days before the international break.

Big-money arrival Antoine Griezmann is still bedding in, although his fellow France international Ousmane Dembele must serve a suspension having been sent off for dissent during the 4-0 victory against Sevilla last time out.

In his report, referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz said Dembele told him he was "very bad, you're very bad" in response to Barca youngster Ronald Araujo being red-carded.

Like coach Ernesto Valverde, Messi was perplexed by the incident – mainly due to Dembele's lack of aptitude with the Spanish language – that means the winger is set to miss El Clasico at Camp Nou later this month.

"It is very difficult for him to be able to say that because it is difficult for him to put together sentences and speak well enough to speak clearly," Messi said.

"The coach supported him at a press conference. The truth is we were surprised that [the referee] understood it so clearly because Ousmane has a hard time speaking Spanish – although he makes himself understood and understands everything.

"It's difficult [to accept the referee] understood it so clearly. That's just the way it is."

As pressure builds on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, there is speculation Manchester United are already looking around for future managers.

According to reports, one such potential candidate is a man making waves in the Bundesliga, now with RB Leipzig.

Even though Solskjaer appears to have the backing of United's hierarchy, the time might come to look to the future - just like the club's former manager Jose Mourinho, who has his eye on a comeback.

 

TOP STORY - UNITED CONSIDER NAGELSMANN

Manchester United are interested in Julian Nagelsmann as a future manager, according to the Daily Mail.

Just 32, Nagelsmann has impressed in the Bundesliga, initially with Hoffenheim and this season at RB Leipzig.

Although Ole Solskjaer still has support at the club despite their worst league start for 30 years, it is reported by the newspaper that United are "gathering information" on Nagelsmann with a view to a future approach to take charge of the first team.

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- Jose Mourinho, is plotting a Premier League return and is keeping an eye on Mauricio Pochettino's situation at Tottenham, according to the Daily Mail.

- Whatever happens with the United manager job, transfer plans for next year are already being drawn up. The big names being eyed for next season are Kalidou Koulibaly and Declan RiceGoal reports.

- In Italy, Juventus have made it clear they will not sell Paulo Dybala in the January transfer window, Calciomercato says. Dybala was linked with United and Spurs in the previous window.

Gareth Bale, meanwhile, considers being left out of the Champions League draw with Club Brugge to be the final straw at Real Madrid, and he wants out next year, AS claims.

- Finally, in more news concerning United bosses of the past, the Mirror and the Daily Mail say there is a growing chance David Moyes could return to Everton if the under-fire Marco Silva is sacked, with the Scot now odds-on in some places to take charge again.

Dani Ceballos says the revivals of Gareth Bale and James Rodriguez at Real Madrid does not make him regret leaving Los Blancos for Arsenal.

Bale appeared certain to depart the Spanish capital for Chinese Super League side Jiangsu Suning after being ostracised by Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane, before the board pulled the plug on the deal.

James' future was equally unclear after he returned from a two-year loan spell at Bayern Munich, but rumoured interest from Napoli and Atletico Madrid failed to materialise.

Both players have subsequently featured regularly for a Madrid side sitting top of LaLiga after eight matches, two points clear of Clasico rivals Barcelona.

Spain international Ceballos opted to make the move to the Premier League with the Gunners on loan after struggling for regular minutes at the Santiago Bernabeu over the past two seasons.

Ceballos has featured on 11 occasions in all competitions so far and is content with the decision he made as he was not enjoying life in Madrid.

"Madrid is pretty good. Yes, they've had many injuries but I don't feel sorry for not being there," he told a news conference while on international duty.

"I know what I have in my head and that was to play and enjoy. I am very happy at Arsenal, I played 10 (11) games where I showed my best level. Now I am where I want to be." 

When asked about Bale and James' upturn in fortunes at Madrid, he replied: "My idea was clear from the outset, play and enjoy football because in the previous two years I had not and I have been successful going out to Arsenal."

Ceballos also paid tribute to Madrid great Sergio Ramos, who is set to become Spain's outright most-capped player during the international break – where Spain face qualifiers against Norway and Sweden – having equalled Iker Casillas' tally of 167 last month.

"Sergio Ramos has won everything at the club and national team level," he added. 

"Despite having a lot of experience he continues to demonstrate the ambition of a young man, that ambition makes him different from the others."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is said to be concerned that one more significant defeat could see him sacked as Manchester United manager.

Although Ed Woodward has given his backing to the former striker and insisted the club has faith in their longer-term plan, it seems the loss to Newcastle United on Sunday has caused particular concern.

AC Milan, meanwhile, could make a change in the dugout on Tuesday, while Real Madrid are considering a Chelsea midfielder.

 

TOP STORY – SOLKSJAER FACING SACK IF UNITED LOSE HANDSOMELY TO LIVERPOOL

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer may not survive at Manchester United if they suffer a significant defeat to Liverpool.

The Daily Mail and the Mirror claim executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward was very concerned by the manner of the 1-0 defeat to Newcastle United, despite giving the manager public support.

It is suggested Woodward could choose to dismiss Solskjaer if United are beaten heavily by league leaders Liverpool on October 20 - much as Jose Mourinho was sacked after a 3-1 loss at Anfield last year.

 

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- United are in desperate need of goals but one of their targets, Moussa Dembele, could be stolen away from Lyon by Everton for £40million in January, according to Football Insider.

AC Milan are another major club ready to make a change in the dugout. Gianluca Di Marzio claims the Rossoneri could replace Marco Giampaolo with former Inter boss Stefano Pioli as early as Tuesday.

- Inter, meanwhile, are plotting a bid for out-of-favour Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic, according to Calciomercato.com.

Real Madrid appear to have turned a corner under Zinedine Zidane but the former France star still wants a new midfielder. Sport say he has sanctioned a possible January bid for Chelsea's N'Golo Kante.

- In France, Sylvinho paid the price for Lyon's poor form - particularly Sunday's derby defeat to Saint-Etienne - and the Ligue 1 side are considering former Valencia boss Marcelino as his replacement, according to Soccer Link.

Toni Kroos has been ruled out of Germany's upcoming games against Argentina and Estonia after he was injured in Real Madrid's game against Granada.

The 29-year-old midfielder was replaced by Luka Modric in the first half of the 4-2 LaLiga win at the Santiago Bernabeu that kept Madrid top of the table.

There was some confusion over the nature of his injury as Madrid released a statement on their English language website saying Kroos had hurt his left foot, while Germany said the problem was in his thigh.

Kroos has started all 10 games in LaLiga and the Champions League this season for Zinedine Zidane's side but could be a doubt for the Clasico against Barcelona at Camp Nou on October 26.

Germany coach Joachim Low will also be without Jonas Hector after the Cologne left-back pulled out of the squad with a neuromuscular injury.

Low called up Suat Serdar on Sunday, with the Schalke midfielder now in line for a senior international debut.

Germany face Argentina in a friendly on Wednesday before travelling to Tallinn to take on Estonia four days later in Euro 2020 qualifying.

Low's side are top of Group C, leading Northern Ireland on goal difference, despite losing at home to Netherlands last month.

Real Madrid lead the race to sign Donny van de Beek with Manchester United seemingly out of the running for the Ajax player.

Van de Beek, 22, has developed into one of the most wanted midfielders in Europe after impressing with Ajax.

Madrid and United have been among the clubs linked with a move for the Netherlands international, but the Spanish giants are said to be favourites.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID LEAD VAN DE BEEK RACE WITH MAN UNITED UNWILLING TO MEET AJAX DEMANDS

Real Madrid are in pole position to sign Van de Beek as Manchester United have been unwilling to pay big money for the Ajax man, according to the Mirror.

The report says Ajax asked the Premier League club for £35million (€39.3m) three months ago, but they are now seeking £100million (€112.3m) which has not put off Madrid.

Madrid have been linked to numerous midfielders, including United's Paul Pogba.

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- Still linked with Real Madrid, Pogba is also reportedly considering signing a new contract at Manchester United. The Mirror says United have denied they are being held to ransom by Pogba amid reports he is demanding £600,000 per week to sign his new deal.

- Lautaro Martinez scored at Camp Nou on Wednesday and the Inter forward's performance has left Barcelona wanting more. The LaLiga giants' attention has returned to Martinez after the display, according to Sport, with the Argentina international having previously been linked with Barca.

- With Real Madrid eyeing midfielders, Wolves' Ruben Neves is being linked with a switch to the Santiago Bernabeu, claims Don Balon, which says €50million (£44.5m) could be enough to get a deal done.

- Arsenal are willing to pay £49.9million (€56m) for PSV striker Donyell Malen, according to Tuttosport. The 20-year-old was previously in the Premier League club's academy and has attracted interest after netting eight goals in as many Eredivisie games this season.

- Victor Valdes' return to Barcelona appears set to be short-lived. Mundo Deportivo reports the club's under-19s coach, appointed in July, is set to lose his job after a string of disagreements.

Zinedine Zidane hailed Federico Valverde's form for Real Madrid after a 4-2 win over Granada on Saturday.

Valverde, 21, made his third straight LaLiga start for Madrid, setting up a goal for Eden Hazard as Zidane's men moved four points clear at the top.

The Uruguay international's display was lauded by Zidane, who praised the midfielder's energy.

"I'm happy for him. He deserves it, he's a player that'll always prove just how good he is," the Madrid coach told a news conference.

"He's improving, he's doing exceptionally well and he's always moving forward, he wants to get on the ball and he had a hand in the goals.

"This is a team game and that first-half performance was brilliant in every sense. We did really well in terms of getting out of our half with the ball.

"That's the kind of player he [Valverde] is. He's a bit of a modern player, he's got a fantastic engine on him, it's not only in attack because he puts in just as much work in defence too and that's important in the modern game and he's doing well, just as many of them are.

"I'm delighted for Fede because he's getting game time and he deserves it."

Valverde gained possession a game-high nine times for Madrid against Granada, while he made three tackles and provided an assist.

Top of the table, Madrid's first game after the international break is a trip to Mallorca on October 19.

Eden Hazard was relieved to finally score his first Real Madrid goal in Saturday's 4-2 LaLiga win over Granada.

Hazard netted his first goal since arriving at Madrid for a reported €100million from Chelsea in June and also provided an assist as Zinedine Zidane's men pulled four points clear at the top.

The Belgium international was pleased to get on the scoresheet and the attacker hopes it is the first of many for the LaLiga giants.

"I am pleased with the win, when you play you want to score, but the crucial thing was getting the win. We are still top of the league, that was our aim," Hazard told Real Madrid TV.

"It's always difficult to get that first goal but once you get it, you have greater confidence to shoot and I hope to score lots of goals for this great club. It was important for me to score.

"It was a really hard-fought win because Granada played really well, they're a strong side and that's why they're second in LaLiga, but we gave our all throughout the 90 minutes and won the game.

"There's always room for improvement but that's three important points."

Karim Benzema, Luka Modric and James Rodriguez also scored for Madrid, who were pegged back from 3-0 up to 3-2 before closing out their victory.

Madrid full-back Dani Carvajal said his side needed to close out matches better after the scare.

"We have to correct this way of closing out matches at home. If we continue like this and don't fix it then points will end up being dropped next time," he said, via Marca.

"It also happened against Levante and it has happened again. The feeling of winning 3-0 and then suffering isn't a sign of reliability.

"We have to be more convincing, but we go into the break as leaders and we know the path to follow."

Zinedine Zidane is hopeful Eden Hazard can build on his impressive display after the Belgium forward got off the mark with his first goal for Real Madrid in Saturday's 4-2 win against Granada. 

Hazard opened his account with an impressive lob late in the first half of the top-of-the-table clash at the Santiago Bernabeu, doubling Madrid's tally after Karim Benzema had given them the lead inside two minutes. 

He also teed up Luka Modric for the goal of the game just after the hour mark, but the home side let their opponents back into the contest when Darwin Machis converted from the spot after Alphonse Areola brought down Carlos Fernandez. 

Domingos Duarte set up a tense finale with his close-range finish 13 minutes from time, only for James Rodriguez to kill off the comeback to move Madrid four points clear at the top of LaLiga. 

It was the performance of Hazard that was most encouraging for Zidane, though, the ex-Chelsea man having failed to score or assist in his first five matches. 

"We need to see Eden like this, playing well and scoring goals," Zidane told reporters. "He wanted that, he was happy in the dressing room. We hope it's the first of many for him." 

Zidane's men rested on their laurels when boasting a commanding lead and were nearly made to pay in a similar performance to their 3-2 win against Levante last month. 

"We should not compare with the Levante game," Zidane said. 

"Granada are second in the table - if you let them back into the game… we had 10-15 difficult minutes. But even the second half we controlled the game. And we scored the fourth. 

"We are better than a month ago. Each player that comes in plays their part. But I want more, and we will play better. 

"We are perfectionists. But it is not easy, there are no easy games. You must always play from minute one to 90." 

Granada have been the surprise package in LaLiga so far and head coach Diego Martinez hailed the way his side fought back. 

"I'm proud of the second-half performance," he said. "We can't be happy if we don't pick up any points, but this game will help us grow as a team. Lifting ourselves up after being 3-0 down, showing pride and enthusiasm. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough, our mistakes were punished." 

Eden Hazard has finally arrived at Real Madrid. The reported €100million signing opened his goalscoring account and got an assist on Saturday, helping unconvincing Los Blancos see off Granada 4-2 at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Having played five matches before the visit of Diego Martinez's men and with only a yellow card to show for his efforts, pundits had been quick to point out the Belgium international's stuttering form.

There is no doubt Hazard's hamstring injury in August played a significant role in disrupting his start to life in Madrid, preventing him from playing the first few weeks of the season.

Yet, for all the understanding from some, Hazard had become a key conversation topic around the club, with questions dominating Zidane's news conferences.

To Zidane's credit, he had been quick to back Hazard – perhaps learning from his treatment of Gareth Bale – and even suggested there were parallels to his own start at the Bernabeu.

"I know [Hazard] is going to succeed here," Zidane said before Madrid were held to a 2-2 draw against Club Brugge in the Champions League on Tuesday.

"The same thing happened to me, this is why I'm very calm, I knew things would work out for me in time and it's the same with Hazard."

While Zidane is probably bending the truth with respect to his own start, having scored three times by the end of September in his first season at the club, it was a comment made to buy Hazard a little extra time – after all, Madrid's fans are infamous for their lack of patience.

Having again been underwhelming against Brugge, making just one key pass, Hazard still initially appeared rusty in the visit of Granada – allowing a defender the chance to get a foot in and tackle him when well placed to cut a ball back into the danger zone.

But in the 42nd minute a low cross almost found Bale, who wanted a penalty for an apparent foul by Carlos Neva, suggesting the Belgian was settling into the contest.

And his next involvement in stoppage time saw Hazard make the sort of impact he did so regularly with Chelsea, racing on to a throughball and nonchalantly lobbing Rui Silva to make it 2-0, adding to Karim Benzema's opener.

The relief on his face was soon replaced by unbridled joy – Sergio Ramos' reaction seeming to say, "About time!".

He followed that up in the second half with an assist, going on a mazy run on the left flank, before cutting back inside and teeing up Luka Modric, having drawn several defenders in.

Modric subsequently unleashed a ferocious strike into the top-left corner from 30 yards, taking full advantage of the space made for him.

No one will attempt to claim Hazard is back to his best on the back of this match – after all, he was generally quiet in the first half and he only got an assist because of Modric's excellence.

But after a sequence of below-par performances in which he offered precious little, Hazard has at least shown hints of his brilliance in a Madrid shirt for the first time.

And given Madrid's rather fragile mentality – as evidenced by the performances against Brugge, Levante, Real Valladolid and now Granada, who fought back from three goals down before James Rodriguez struck late on – Zidane needs Hazard in full stride as soon as possible.

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