Eden Hazard’s season could be at risk after Real Madrid announced on Sunday that he fractured his right ankle during his team’s 1-0 La Liga defeat at Levante.
Belgium forward Hazard, whose first season at Real has been plagued by injury, will now miss Wednesday’s Champions League last 16 clash with Manchester City and the Clasico with league leaders Barcelona next weekend.
He has made just 10 La Liga appearances this season after arriving from Chelsea for 100 million euros ($109 million), scoring once and adding one assist.
Madrid did not announce a recovery time for Hazard but his latest setback will be a worry for Belgium boss Roberto Martinez ahead of Euro 2020 this summer.
On Saturday, Madrid coach Zinedine admitted that the 29-year-old’s injury “doesn’t look good” ahead of those two huge matches, which could define his side’s season.
Hazard was pictured with an ice pack around the same right foot he broke in November after being substituted in the second half of Saturday’s loss, which handed a two-point La Liga lead to Barca ahead of next week’s Clasico at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Hazard made his first start in almost three months against Celta Vigo last weekend and started again at Levante, with a view to regaining sharpness before the City showdown.
But his latest setback extends a bitterly disappointing opening season in Spain.
Hazard sustained a thigh injury in training the day before Madrid’s first game of the campaign, after admitting he arrived at the club five kilograms overweight.
He returned in September but took time to find sharpness and just as he looked to be close to his best in November, a broken foot put him out of action again.
Madrid thrived during Hazard’s three-month absence, going 21 matches unbeaten and moving to the top of La Liga, so there will be optimism they can cope again for the rest of the run-in.
Gareth Bale, Vinicius Junior, Isco and Rodrygo are all possible options up front alongside Karim Benzema, who remains the team’s most reliable attacking threat.
Zidane has also turned to a 4-5-1 this term, which allows him to focus on Madrid’s strength in midfield, with Luka Modric, Toni Kroos, Casemiro, Fede Valverde and Isco all playing well in recent weeks.
But that will be of little consolation to Hazard. He said last summer he wanted to be a ‘Galactico’ at Madrid but has so far been unable to live up to expectations.