Thibaut Courtois backed Eden Hazard to eventually "explode" for Real Madrid after his luckless injury run.

Hazard is yet to make an appearance for Madrid this season, having suffered a muscle injury just as he neared a return from an ankle issue.

The playmaker struggled to have much of an impact for the LaLiga giants in his first season following his arrival for a reported €100million (£86m) from Chelsea last year.

But Belgium and Madrid team-mate Courtois believes it is only a matter of time before Hazard delivers at the Santiago Bernabeu.

"Hazard? I have no doubt, I am sure we will see the best Eden Hazard," the goalkeeper told Cadena SER on Wednesday.

"He is the first with the desire to show it. I see him very well and hopefully soon he can prove it.

"Just before his injury, he played several games very well and there he had such bad luck and getting out of that was not easy.

"But now this month I saw him train very well. I am sure that in no time he will explode and will to give many joys to the team."

Courtois arrived at Madrid from Chelsea in 2018 and also struggled initially, but he has turned his form around.

The 28-year-old paid tribute to coach Zinedine Zidane for continuing to back him.

"Zidane has given me a lot of confidence. I have always felt that he counted on me and it is important," Courtois said.

"In those difficult moments at the beginning of last year, if you don't feel that the coach is with you, it becomes difficult."

Courtois' save percentage in LaLiga in his first season with Madrid in 2018-19 was 65.4, as per Opta.

That figure improved to 79.2 last season, as he faced 302 shots in both of those campaigns.

In four games so far in 2020-21, Courtois' save percentage is at 86.7, showcasing his improvement at Madrid.

Madrid, who are top of LaLiga with 10 points from four games, host Cadiz on Saturday.

Reported Real Madrid target Houssem Aouar has the talent to one day play at the Santiago Bernabeu, but Zinedine Zidane has little interest speculating about the final days of the transfer window.

Lyon midfielder Aouar, who starred in their run to last season's Champions League semi-finals, has been linked with both Madrid and Arsenal.

The window closes on Monday, though, and Zidane - while acknowledging Aouar's talent - is looking forward to having the distraction of out the way.

"I don't know what information you have," Zidane responded at a news conference ahead of Madrid's trip to Levante. "I have no doubt about this player, he is a great player.

"Maybe one day he could play for Madrid, but today we have this squad and my concern is the players I have now. As of October 5, there will be no such questions."

Madrid are yet to make a single signing in this window, yet the focus in recent days has been on a man they let go.

Achraf Hakimi was allowed to join Inter after an impressive loan with Borussia Dortmund and rival right-backs Dani Carvajal and Alvaro Odriozola have both gone down injured in the past two days.

Carvajal has damaged the medial collateral ligament in his right knee and could reportedly face two months out, while back-up Odriozola then sustained a calf issue.

Zidane is now without a recognised option on that side of the defence but would not reflect differently on Hakimi's departure.

"These are things that can happen in a squad," he explained. "We have to count on other players. We can't look for excuses."

The pair join winger Eden Hazard on the injury list, Madrid's number seven suffering a muscle injury late last month as he sought to return to fitness after a tough first season in Spain.

Zidane is not concerned Hazard's repeated problems will mean he does not come back the same player, though.

"I am positive about everything, including Hazard," the coach said. "Plus this was a muscle injury from having worked hard to return.

"I don't like [injures], because I like having everyone available, but they are things that can happen. It just bothers me that players can't play."

Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane is unsure how long Eden Hazard will be sidelined, but said the attacker was "upset" after another injury setback.

Hazard, 29, is enduring a torrid run in Madrid, and is yet to make an appearance this season.

The Belgium international was ready to return from an ankle problem, but suffered a muscle injury that saw him miss Wednesday's 1-0 LaLiga victory over Real Valladolid.

Zidane is unsure how long Hazard, signed for a reported €100million from Chelsea last year, will be unavailable.

"I can't tell you how long it'll be. He picked up a bit of a knock in training before the game," he told a news conference.

"It looked like a muscle spasm but in the end it turned out to be a bit more than that. It's something muscular. It's nothing to do with the injury he's had and these things happen.

"He's been out for a long time. I don't think this one will be long but I can't tell you exactly."

Hazard has struggled to impress since arriving at Madrid, where he scored one goal and provided three assists in 16 LaLiga appearances last season.

Zidane said the former Lille star was disappointed after his latest injury.

"He's upset because he was all right. We talked about it at the press conference before the match, but he's had a setback and these things can happen," he said.

"He's not happy, he knows that it's not a big thing and we have to take it easy with him. It's a question of little time, I'm sure."

After earning seven points from their opening three LaLiga games, Madrid visit Levante on Sunday.

Eden Hazard has suffered a fresh injury blow, with Real Madrid confirming he has sustained a muscle injury in his right leg.

The Belgium forward has yet to feature for Los Blancos this season having endured an injury-hit debut 2019-20 campaign.

Hazard's big-money arrival from Chelsea was met with much fanfare but the start of his campaign was held up by a hamstring complaint and he sustained a fractured foot in a Champions League game against Paris Saint-Germain in November having started to show flashes of his best form.

A broken ankle he suffered in February not long after returning from that setback further derailed Hazard's progress and there were suggestions this month he returned to pre-season overweight.

Head coach Zinedine Zidane defended Hazard against suggestions he lacked professionalism and included him in the squad for Wednesday's LaLiga clash with Real Valladolid.

But Madrid confirmed the new issue in a statement on the club's website and, although they did not put a timescale on his return, reports suggest he could be absent for another three to four weeks.

"Following tests carried out today on our player, Eden Hazard, by Real Madrid Medical Services, he has been diagnosed with a muscle injury in his right leg. His recovery will continue to be assessed," Madrid's statement read.

The LaLiga champions have taken four points from their opening two matches of the campaign.

Eden Hazard is "very close" to a return to full fitness as Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane refuted suggestions the forward lacked professionalism. 

The Belgium star has struggled to find his rhythm in Spain following his initial €100million switch from Chelsea in June last year.

He managed a solitary goal in his debut season at the Santiago Bernabeu as he battled to regain top condition after undergoing surgery on a broken right foot.

Zidane hinted that Hazard is primed for action for the first time this season, though stopped short of confirming his spot in the team for Wednesday's clash with Real Valladolid.

"I think he's very close to a return," said Zidane. "He is prepared and training well with the team.

"The issue is that he hasn't been able to train much until now, but now he is back training regularly. So, we'll see what happens.

"What he wants is to play. He had a big problem that caused him issues for a long time, but now it seems like he is fine.

"The season is very long and he is a professional. He does not lack professionalism. What he wants is to be with his team-mates and to play."

Asked if he was looking to add to his squad in what remains of the transfer window, Zidane pointed out the difficulties he already faces in picking the LaLiga champions' strongest XI.

Vinicius Junior is one player who is having to contend with being on the periphery, although Zidane insists he is content with the winger.

"I'm very happy with the squad that I have," he said. "Adding more players would not be ideal.

"I'm already struggling to choose between the players that I have. I have the best squad.

"I'm very happy with Vinicius. He wants to play like every player, I pick my starting line-up every match, and of course I count on Vinicius, he is a great player."

Zidane's side responded to their opening-game draw with Real Sociedad by winning 3-2 at Real Betis last time out. 

Zinedine Zidane insists he will not put pressure on the Real Madrid board to bring in attacking reinforcements before the transfer window closes.

Madrid have been quiet since the market re-opened and the 0-0 stalemate at Real Sociedad to kick off their LaLiga title defence in underwhelming fashion suggested Zidane might have to seek solutions beyond his squad.

However, despite allowing creative talents such as Gareth Bale, James Rodriguez and Brahim Diaz to leave, the head coach told reporters ahead of Saturday's match against Real Betis that he will not be pestering Florentino Perez to get the chequebook out.

"This is the squad I have to work with, I'm not going to ask for anything more," he said.

"But I know that anything can happen between now and October 5.

"I think the best thing for all managers is that the transfer deadline comes and goes.

"I think I have the best squad and I'm thoroughly behind my players."

Perhaps Madrid's more recent attempts to spend big and bolster their attack are serving as cautionary tales.

Eden Hazard is still building up match fitness and unavailable, the stop-start nature of his underwhelming first season at the Santiago Bernabeu apparently playing on a loop few take any pleasure in watching.

"He's okay, that injury isn't a bother anymore," Zidane said of the damaged foot that required surgery last term.

"But he needs to get training sessions under his belt, he needs to work for the team and go slow.

"In a short time, he'll be with the squad. What we want and what the player wants is to be part of that first-team fold and playing."

Luka Jovic was again an unused substitute in San Sebastian but Zidane maintains the former Eintracht Frankfurt favourite has a role to play, perhaps even in tandem with first-choice striker Karim Benzema.

"They can play together. But we've got a lot of games coming up and there are lots of different playing styles and formations. Every game is different," he said.

"We also have to take into account our opponents. Also, like I said, every game is different and you have to choose players accordingly.

"I've never said Karim and Jovic can't play together up front. I can see it, definitely."

Zidane added: "Last season we won two titles, so we obviously had no problem scoring and winning titles

"You go through periods where sometimes you struggle to score and put those chances away but it's something you work on to improve."

Zinedine Zidane does not know when Eden Hazard will be fit to play for Real Madrid as the Belgium star's struggles in the Spanish capital continue.

Although Madrid successfully wrested control of LaLiga from Barcelona last season, it was a campaign of personal frustration for Hazard following his initial €100million switch from Chelsea.

He managed a solitary goal and struggled to regain top condition after undergoing surgery on a broken right foot.

Hazard signed off his season with a lacklustre showing in Madrid's Champions League last-16 loss to Manchester City.

The 29-year-old went on international duty during the recent break for Nations League matches against Denmark and Iceland but did not play a single minute and reports from Madrid suggested he returned to pre-season training overweight.

Before the start of his team's title defence at Real Sociedad on Sunday, Zidane confirmed Hazard would not feature in San Sebastian.

"I can't tell you when he'll be able to return, just that he's better," he said.

"The important thing is how the player feels. We have time to prepare for the season.

"The only thing he has to do is be at 100 per cent and we'll get to work."

One creative talent ready to play a part is Martin Odegaard, who is back in the Madrid ranks after impressing on loan at Real Sociedad last season – to the extent that Los Blancos opted to recall the 21-year-old Norway international instead of allowing him to spend another campaign at the Anoeta.

"He's our player and he can contribute to the team," Zidane said of Odegaard, who also spent time on loan with Heerenveen and Vitesse after joining Madrid as a 16-year-old in January 2015.

"Players that come to Real Madrid are the best. We have another player and he's a player that can be very important in this squad. I know I have the best players here.

"The important thing for the players is to be prepared and I think Martin, like the others, is prepared.

"Martin has changed because his trajectory has been phenomenal and he's improved each year. He's a more complete player now."

Kylian Mbappe would be a "stratospheric" signing for Real Madrid but a move is not financially feasible, according to the Spanish club's former president Ramon Calderon.

The Paris Saint-Germain forward has been strongly tipped to link up with Zinedine Zidane at the Santiago Bernabeu at some point in his career, potentially as early as this transfer window.

However, Mbappe still has two years to run on his PSG contract and would command a huge transfer fee, which Calderon feels no team can justify in the current climate.

"No doubt Mbappe is a player who everyone would like to sign. He has great potential, and he is very young," he told Stats Perform News.

"He reminds me a lot of Ronaldo, the Brazilian, because of his strength and his capacity to score goals. No doubt, he would be a great transfer. 

"I don't know if Real Madrid are able to do it now. It would be a stratospheric transfer. He has a contract with PSG – they will not give him away for free.

"On the other hand, we are into a very expensive deal with the rebuilding of the new stadium. It is up to €1billion. So, it is difficult.

"But if the president thinks it can be possible, he will do it. However, I guess the economy will not be the best, especially at this time, when there will be financial issues at every club.

"The costs of transfers will totally change. They will go down, and also the salaries of the players will go down.

"So, it is basically an economic point. First, the player needs to ask for a transfer request and the financial agreement will come after.

"But, again, the financial agreement for Mbappe is not easy – it cannot be done by anyone."

Madrid's most recent marquee signing, Belgium forward Eden Hazard, failed to make much of an impact in his debut season after joining from Chelsea last year.

Hazard suffered from a series of injury issues and featured just 22 times in all competitions, but Calderon expects to see a lot more from the 29-year-old this coming season.

"We know he was a great player in the Premier League," Calderon said. "A fantastic player – so much talent and skill.

"But he did not play as regularly as Madrid demand of their players. Chelsea are a big team, but Chelsea players don't have to handle the pressure that Real Madrid players have.

"I have dealt with it. When they come here, you face the most difficult time of your career. You have to give 150 per cent and the fans are extremely demanding.

"So, we have to wait. It is only the first year, a year of adaptation. He also struggled with injuries. I believe he could show his talent the following year.

"It has happened before with other players when they couldn't perform the first season and the second one has been totally different. Hopefully, that will be the case."

Zinedine Zidane guided Madrid to their first LaLiga title in three years in 2019-20 – his 11th trophy in three seasons as head coach across two spells in the Spanish capital.

The Frenchman's future has sometimes been called into question, however, and Calderon has backed former Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino to take over once Zidane does eventually move on.

"Pochettino is a very good manager. Of course he could manage Real Madrid," Calderon said.

"However, again, this is a very complicated club and so demanding of everyone. From that point, they have built their history.

"That demand makes every player know they need to be at 100 per cent in order to fight for all the trophies.

"I believe Zidane will stay, but it is true he already left once. He is not engaged to anyone, even though he has already shown his commitment to Real Madrid.

"I think he didn't plan at the beginning to become manager. But he finally decided to be manager and he has reached a point [that will be] very difficult to equal for many years.

"I hope he stays for many years, but nothing is forever. One day he will decide to leave and when it happens, it will be the time to think of another manager – and I think Pochettino would be really suitable."

Eden Hazard and Rodrygo will start for Real Madrid against Manchester City in the Champions League last-16 second leg.

Belgium star Hazard had been battling to be fit after suffering discomfort in the ankle he injured in February, but head coach Zinedine Zidane confirmed this week the player was feeling better.

He joins Rodrygo, preferred to Marco Asensio and Vinicius Junior, alongside Karim Benzema in attack, while Eder Militao starts as expected in place of the suspended Sergio Ramos.

City boss Pep Guardiola has dropped Eric Garcia to the bench after announcing on Thursday that the teenage defender – heavily linked with a return to boyhood club Barcelona – would not sign a new contract at the Etihad Stadium.

Veteran campaigner Fernandinho will partner Aymeric Laporte in the heart of defence, with Phil Foden handed a start as David Silva begins his final game as a City player in Manchester among the substitutes.

Gabriel Jesus, who played much of the first leg on the left flank before heading in City's equaliser, starts up front in Sergio Aguero's ongoing absence through a knee injury, while Guardiola again appears to have opted for a double pivot in midfield of Ilkay Gundogan and Rodri, who both started at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Portugal international Joao Cancelo is preferred to Oleksandr Zinchenko at left-back, with Benjamin Mendy suspended.

City lead 2-1 from that first leg.

Gareth Bale was omitted from Real Madrid's squad to face Manchester City in the Champions League because he did not want to play, according to Zinedine Zidane.

On Wednesday, Madrid named a 24-man group to travel to the Etihad Stadium and while captain Sergio Ramos was included – despite the fact he cannot play in the second leg due to suspension – there was no place for Bale.

The Welshman scored twice in the 3-1 Champions League final win over Liverpool two seasons ago but will play no part as Madrid seek to overturn a 2-1 first-leg deficit against Pep Guardiola's side in the last-16 tie on Friday.

Bale has started just once since February – and has been restricted to 110 minutes combined since Madrid's campaign resumed in June – and Zidane explained it was the 31-year-old's decision not to be involved in Manchester.

"I will explain because many things are said," Zidane told reporters in a news conference.

"We have a relationship of respect between player and coach, that is clear. The only thing I can say is that he has decided not to play, and the rest is between him and me."

Zidane grew increasingly frustrated at answering questions on Bale, who may appear to have no future at Madrid but remains under contract until 2022.

"I have already answered before about the situation. The rest is a conversation between the player and the coach, and I am not going to tell you anything," Zidane added.

The fourth and final question on Bale – surrounding his future with Los Blancos – was met with a straight bat.

"Gareth Bale is a Real Madrid player, nothing changes. I respect that," Zidane replied.

"He has decided not to play. All of us here are focused on tomorrow's game."

Eden Hazard is part of Madrid's travelling party, though he has experienced an injury-hit debut season in the Spanish capital.

He was out between November and February due to an ankle problem and then sustained a broken ankle bone, with the congested end-of-season LaLiga run-in causing him further discomfort, yet Zidane has been encouraged by his condition since.

"He has had some discomfort about the end of LaLiga, but I think he is much better now, we have had time to prepare for the game and now he is confident," the Madrid boss added.

"I think there was a minor setback after that second injury but now hopefully he can play and hopefully there will be nothing there to hold him back."

He might have a winners' medal in his pocket at the end of his first LaLiga season, but Eden Hazard is in no mood to spare himself.

Long touted as a potential marquee signing for Real Madrid, the Belgium star made the move to the Santiago Bernabeu for an initial €100million last June.

However, by the time Zinedine Zidane had masterminded a post-lockdown overhaul of Barcelona to claim the title, the dream had long since turned into something of a nightmare.

"We have won the title collectively this year, considering it has certainly been the worst season of my career individually," Hazard told France Info after injury woes – most notably a broken foot that required surgery – restricted him to 16 top-flight appearances.

He scored once in 1,086 LaLiga minutes and has failed to find the net in five Champions League appearances for the 13-time winners so far.

The peculiarity of this elongated season means a chance to salvage something arrives on Friday in familiar surroundings.

Madrid are 2-1 in arrears ahead of their last-16 second leg against Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium. If a remontada is to become reality, they will probably need an individual to step up and produce something truly special – particularly considering talismanic captain Sergio Ramos is suspended.

It was another Belgian, Kevin De Bruyne, who stole the show in the Spanish capital back in February as he majestically created Gabriel Jesus' equaliser before dispatching the winner from the penalty spot.

Although firm friends throughout their gilded careers, it is hard to imagine the distinction of being Belgium's outstanding footballer lying elsewhere sitting too well with the lavishly gifted Hazard.

Perhaps an outing in east Manchester can stir a return to his very best.

In December of the 2016-17 season, City and Chelsea were neck and neck at the top of the Premier League when the Londoners travelled north.

De Bruyne hit the crossbar from point-blank range with the hosts 1-0 up and then Hazard took over, the master conductor as Antonio Conte's Blues took apart Pep Guardiola's men on the counter-attack. He scored the game-sealing goal in a 3-1 victory as a disintegrating City finished with Sergio Aguero and Fernandinho sent off.

In the return match at Stamford Bridge, Hazard netted a brace in 2-1 win that put Chelsea on the brink of the Premier League title.

His efforts that year yielded 16 goals and five assists, sitting handsomely alongside the 14 goals and nine assists from 2014-15 when he first inspired the Stamford Bridge outfit to glory. City came second in that earlier campaign and Hazard walked off with the PFA and FWA end-of-season awards.

There is no suggestion that, at 29, Hazard will not be able to scale such heights again. Whether he can this week, however, is another matter.

Zidane seems to be as in the dark as anyone else.

"I think Eden had little [injury] problems recently because, when he finished playing [against Villarreal], he had problems; he didn't end well," he told reporters after Hazard's final appearance of the LaLiga season in Madrid's penultimate match.

In the final six games of the campaign, the after-effects of Hazard's injury woes restricted him to 70 minutes on the field. The outing against Villarreal accounted for 62 of those.

"I hope that, with this break, he recovers completely," Zidane added. "Those that know about this, about looking after players, will try to get Eden well again."

It is probably wise to look towards 2020-21 with a clean slate. But maybe all it will take is one elegant shuffle of the feet, a deft lay-off or one of those beautifully balanced dribbles for the memories to come flooding back – for both Hazard and those in sky blue trying to stop him – in the country where he forged a path to the top of the game.

Fabio Capello believes the burden of wearing the Real Madrid shirt proved too much for Eden Hazard in his debut season at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Former Chelsea winger Hazard made a €100million move to Spain ahead of the 2019-20 season, but injuries blighted his first campaign with Los Blancos.

He made 14 starts and 16 appearances in total in LaLiga, scoring only once and managing a modest three assists.

That was way down on the form of his final season at Chelsea, where he netted 16 times and had 15 assists in 37 Premier League games, including 32 starts.

"Of course, he hasn't been the same as he was at Chelsea," former Madrid head coach Capello told Marca. "He has been injured for a long time, he has not adapted.

"I've always thought of him as a great player. But let's be clear, the Real Madrid shirt weighs a lot and Hazard has sunk this year. It is clear that next season will be much better."

Hazard himself admitted it had been "the worst season of my career", even though it was a title-winning campaign with Madrid.

The success owed a large part to the intrepid forward play of Karim Benzema, who finished second, behind Lionel Messi, in the Pichichi reckoning after hitting 21 goals.

Benzema's leadership of Madrid's attack was priceless, given Hazard was not the only forward who struggled for form.

Others who contributed little to the goals tally included Gareth Bale, Rodrygo, Vinicius Junior and Luka Jovic, who between them netted just nine times.

Capello, who has had two spells in charge of Madrid and also led the likes of Milan, Roma, Juventus, England and Russia, was full of praise for Benzema, describing his efforts as "sensational".

The French striker joined Madrid in 2009 from Lyon, and is going from strength to strength in his thirties.

"He has become the benchmark for Real Madrid. Undoubtedly the best," Capello said. "He has taken the responsibility that he did not have when he was with Cristiano Ronaldo.

"For me, it was the best season since he arrived."

Frank Lampard believes Christian Pulisic's impact on Chelsea is comparable to Eden Hazard's at Stamford Bridge.

Pulisic scored and provided an assist after coming off the bench during the second half of Chelsea's 5-3 Premier League loss to Liverpool on Wednesday.

The United States international, 21, has scored nine league goals and provided four assists in 24 games, comparable to Hazard's first campaign (nine goals and 11 assists in 34 matches) at Chelsea in 2012-13.

Lampard lauded the attacker and said Pulisic's impact on Chelsea was similar to Hazard's, with the Belgian having left for Real Madrid last year.

"He is hugely important. He has had that impact," the Chelsea head coach told a news conference.

"I was here for Eden's first year and it's not easy to come into the Premier League, even for Eden in that first year, and adapt to the Premier League. Christian has had his moments of that.

"Since mid-season he's had a really good patch, since the restart he has been in incredible form. Only the injury he picked up in the Norwich game has kept him out of the [FA Cup] semi-final when he is flying.

"Today he comes on and has 40 minutes, which is great for the injury to feel confident with it and shows the quality that he has been showing. He's so young, he has got such natural talent. He scores goals, he creates goals and he is a big player for us. Delighted to see him come through fit. Clearly he will be a big player for us in these next few games but going forward as well."

Chelsea twice trailed by three goals against Liverpool, who sealed their win late on after the visitors had come back to a 4-3 deficit.

But Lampard had no criticism for under-fire goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga, with Liverpool producing several good finishes.

"I wouldn't talk about individuals in a game where we have conceded those goals. Some were real quality Liverpool finishes, particularly the free-kick [from Trent Alexander-Arnold]," he said.

"There were some collective and individual errors for them but what we did do was contribute towards a really good game. At 4-3 it felt like we would get back into the game. I felt it throughout. At 3-0 it was difficult but even at 3-1 and what that gave us and the way we were playing in the game.

"We know where we're at and we know if we make mistakes like that against a team of the quality of Liverpool, this is what can happen. But there were a lot of good things in the game so I certainly don't want to get into an individual conversation about players. 

"We've now got two big domestic games to play this week. It's important we go in together as players, fans, everybody, to finish the season how we want."

With one league game remaining, Chelsea are a point clear of fifth-placed Leicester City, while they will face Arsenal in the FA Cup final on August 1.

Luka Modric insists Real Madrid always believed they would get back to winning trophies after Cristiano Ronaldo left for Juventus in 2018.

The Portugal star departed Madrid for Turin in a €112million deal shortly after winning his fourth Champions League with Los Blancos and tasted Serie A glory in his first season in Italy.

Madrid went on to win the 2018 Club World Cup but otherwise endured a disappointing season, with Barcelona claiming the league title, Liverpool winning the Champions League and Valencia lifting the Copa del Rey.

However, with Zinedine Zidane installed as head coach again in March last year, Los Blancos emerged triumphant during the disrupted 2019-20 season to win the league title again.

Modric insists there was never a problem in terms of the team's ambition once Ronaldo had left for Juve.

"It's pointless discussing how important Ronaldo was for Real, but I must say we were not burdened by the fact he was no longer there in the sense that we weren't able to generate the same ambition," he told Sportske Novosti.

"We were convinced we'd continue to win trophies even without him because, regardless of the strength of the individual, the team is always above everything."

Eden Hazard joined Madrid from Chelsea last year for €100million in a deal seen by many as a means to fill the void left by Ronaldo on the left of the Madrid attack.

However, the Belgium international's first season in Spain has been blighted by injuries, and he only managed 14 league starts.

Modric, though, has advised Hazard to be patient when it comes to rediscovering his best form, just as he did after joining from Tottenham in 2012.

"I loved watching him at Chelsea. Since he came [to Madrid], he hasn't had any luck with his health. You could see how eager he was to play and show what he can do," Modric said.

"I went through those stages of high expectations and the process of adjusting, of the disruptive bad luck, so I told him he just has to be patient."

Eden Hazard admitted his first year with Real Madrid has been the worst season of his career.

Former Chelsea star Hazard cost Madrid an initial fee reported to be €100million last July but has endured an injury-plagued 2019-20.

A hamstring issue delayed his debut for Los Blancos, while foot and ankle problems have contributed to him starting just 21 games in all competitions.

Madrid have won the Supercopa de Espana and LaLiga in 2019-20 and remain in the Champions League, though they lost the first leg of their last-16 tie against Manchester City 2-1.

While Hazard was pleased to have got off to a triumphant start at the Santiago Bernabeu, he acknowledged he contributed little to the cause.

"There have been injuries, but I hope next year will be even better," Hazard, who was left out of the squad to face Leganes on Sunday, told franceinfo.

"Even if this season had not been terrible for me, I couldn't have asked for a better experience than coming here and winning the league in my first year.

"This year, it is collectively that we won the title, because on an individual level I have surely had the worst season of my career."

If Madrid overturn their deficit against City, they will face Juventus or Lyon in the quarter-finals when the Champions League heads to Lisbon.

"It was a somewhat bizarre season with everything that happened," said Hazard.

"The season is already very good, but I think it can be even better if we progress from our last-16 second leg of the Champions League.

"When you play for Real Madrid, you want to win all the possible titles. The next one, it has to be the Champions League, even if it's going to be difficult because we have to play at Manchester City and they have a very nice team."

Guiding Madrid to LaLiga glory saw Zinedine Zidane take his trophy haul across two spells in charge to 11 – three shy of Miguel Munoz's club record.

"We all know Zidane as a player, he was the best. As a coach, we don't even need to describe him anymore," said Hazard.

"He has proven, in just a few years, that he is already one of the best coaches. He trusts his players and his players trust him. That's why it works."

Madrid are on course to concede the fewest amount of goals in a 38-game LaLiga season in their history, and Hazard thinks having "one of the best centre-backs in history" in Raphael Varane has been key.

The winger said: "In my career, I have known very great defenders, such as John Terry or Vincent Kompany.

"I think Rapha, even though he is still young, is already one of the best centre-backs in history. The partnership he has with Sergio Ramos is great."

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