Eden Hazard will have a "fabulous" 2021 after missing out on Belgium's final games of this year with coronavirus, according to Roberto Martinez.

Since completing a €100million move to Real Madrid in June 2019, Hazard has been beset by injury problems and limited to just 25 appearances in all competitions.

He has scored two goals and supplied four assists for Los Blancos, after a final campaign at Chelsea in which he registered 16 goals and 15 assists in the Premier League alone.

A muscle injury meant his first outing of 2020-21 did not come until October 27 and three games into his return he tested positive for coronavirus.  

Hazard was again positive for COVID-19 at the weekend and will consequently miss Belgium's crunch Nations League Group A2 clash with Denmark.

However, Martinez is confident the 29-year-old will soon return to his previous heights and play an important role for Madrid and Belgium.

"Eden really wanted to join us and play the last three games in 2020," said Martinez on Tuesday.

"He has had a really complicated year. I am convinced that 2021 will be a fabulous year for Eden Hazard, and also the national team."

Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois added: "It's a shame he'll miss this match, but we have enough quality to win without him.

"The group has more experience, we know what we have to improve. We have one of the best teams in the world."

Martinez will also be without the suspended duo Axel Witsel and Thomas Meunier for the meeting in Heverlee, where a point will be enough for Belgium to qualify for the Nations League Finals.

"We are not going to focus on the absentees. I am looking at the players that will have the chance to put themselves forward, to seize an opportunity," said Martinez.

"I have many solutions to compensate for the absences of Wistel and Meunier. There is Thomas Foket, Thorgan Hazard and Nacer Chadli among others.

"Denmark are a very strong team but we want to participate in the Finals so we will do everything to win. We are not going to aim for a draw. We have to win for the fans and to end the year on a good note."

Belgium missed out on a place in the inaugural Nations League Finals in 2019 after losing their final group game against Switzerland 5-2.

Courtois insists they have learned from that performance and know they cannot take Denmark lightly.

"We know their strengths and weaknesses. If they win, they will quality. We have to show intensity from the first minute to the last, be careful and focused. We will not easily win this game 4-0," said Courtois.

"We had relaxed a bit that day [against Switzerland], it's true. We learned from that match. We are ready for Wednesday."

Michy Batshuayi scored twice for Belgium as the number one FIFA-ranked team in the world laboured to a 2-1 win over Switzerland in a low-key international friendly.

Admir Mehmedi gave the Swiss the lead early on at the Den Dreef Stadion in Leuven with a crisp low finish past Belgium goalkeeper Simon Mignolet.

Batshuayi equalised for Belgium early in the second half with an angled finish after an intelligent pass from Youri Tielemans.

The 27-year-old striker then took his tally to 21 goals for Belgium, scoring his second of the game with a shot on the turn from close range to seal victory with 20 minutes left.

Roberto Martinez labelled Eden Hazard's positive coronavirus test "disappointing" as the Belgium head coach lamented the Real Madrid star's absence.

Hazard will miss Belgium's international friendly against Switzerland on Wednesday and the Nations League showdown with England four days later after contracting COVID-19.

The 29-year-old attacker tested positive prior to Madrid's 4-1 LaLiga humbling at the hands of Valencia on Sunday.

Hazard has featured just 25 times in all competitions for Madrid since arriving from Chelsea for €100million in June last year, scoring two goals and supplying four assists. In his final campaign at Stamford Bridge, he registered 16 goals and 15 assists in the Premier League alone.

Hampered by injuries and fitness issues in the Spanish capital, Belgium boss Martinez bemoaned Hazard's latest setback.

"Obviously we were all delighted to see Eden [Hazard] play in the last three games with his club and starting to look happy and free, being able to score," Martinez told reporters.

"I think we were all looking forward to seeing Eden play for the national team. I think that was good news for the club as well because to be able to play minutes and get games will help his match fitness.

"The positive [COVID-19 test] is a disappointing news but it's not abnormal in the current world we live in. I think being positive for coronavirus is not news anymore. 

"At the moment, we are just following the protocols of UEFA and making sure that Eden carries on working at home so he doesn't lose any fitness and see how quickly he can join the national team, if it can happen.

"But no, nothing mysterious about his positive [result], nothing at all. He's asymptomatic and he feels in good spirits and that's the only thing that matters."

Roberto Martinez is confident Romelu Lukaku will be able to feature in Belgium's upcoming matches, despite concerns raised by Inter over the striker's fitness.

Lukaku sat out Inter's 2-2 Serie A draw with Parma and 3-2 loss to Real Madrid in the Champions League because of a thigh injury sustained against Shakhtar Donetsk.

The 27-year-old is being monitored by Inter on a daily basis and remains doubtful for Sunday's league trip to Atalanta.

Speaking earlier this week, CEO Beppe Marotta said "common sense" must prevail when it comes to international sides calling up players.

However, Lukaku has been included in Belgium's squad for the upcoming friendly with Switzerland and the Nations League games against England and Denmark.

"We have been in close contact with Inter," Martinez said at a news conference on Friday. "We are confident of his presence from Monday. He will be ready."

Eden Hazard, another who is carrying a minor injury, has also been selected as part of Belgium's extended 32-man group.

The Real Madrid forward has played just three times in all competitions this season but Martinez is ready to use him over the coming fortnight.

"He has already started two matches for Real Madrid and feels good," Martinez said. "His return is going well and he could therefore receive playing time."

Hazard's Madrid team-mate Thibaut Courtois is once again included and Martinez believes the ex-Chelsea man is "the best goalkeeper in the world".

Courtois has a save percentage of 79.34 in LaLiga since the start of last season, compared to 78.68 for Jan Oblak and 68.97 for Marc-Andre ter Stegen of Atletico Madrid and Barcelona respectively.

Liverpool stopper Alisson has saved 69.47 per cent of the shots he has faced in the Premier League over the same timeframe, meanwhile, and Paris Saint-Germain's Keylor Navas' save percentage is 76.54 in Ligue 1.

Kevin De Bruyne could not wait to leave the Belgium bubble after their Nations League thrashing of Iceland so he could be reunited with his family and newborn daughter.

Manchester City playmaker De Bruyne, who was named PFA Player of the Year earlier on Tuesday, helped Belgium to a 5-1 victory in which Michy Batshuayi scored twice.

De Bruyne missed Saturday's 2-0 win against Denmark to be at the birth of Suri, his third child with wife Michele.

De Bruyne was back on duty for his country as they made it six points from two games in Group A2, helping Belgium recover from shipping an early goal to Holmbert Fridjonsson.

Man of the match Batshuayi's double and goals from Axel Witsel, Dries Mertens and 18-year-old Jeremy Doku allowed Belgium to cruise to an ultimately impressive win behind closed doors in Brussels.

"It was a great night for us. I am happy to be back on the pitch," De Bruyne said, quoted on UEFA.com.

"I don't think my newborn daughter will have seen the game tonight, but I can't wait to be back with her and my wife and kids."

Speaking to Belgian broadcaster RTBF, De Bruyne said Belgium were given problems by the team that lost 1-0 to England on Saturday.

"Iceland played with a compact block. It was complicated to find the solution at the start of the match," he said.

"But that did not surprise me given the match this team played against England.

"It's good to win two matches in these conditions because not everyone has participated in the same number of training sessions before joining the squad. I think we played well at times."

Toby Alderweireld completed a century of Belgium appearances in a largely empty King Baudouin Stadium.

"A 100th game without an audience, it's a shame," said the Tottenham defender. "I would have liked my family to be there, but I'm happy to have reached this bar."

Iceland head coach Erik Hamren, quoted by UEFA.com, said: "We need to face the fact that they are a better team than us. We had neither the energy nor strength to defend for each other throughout the game."

And while his Belgium counterpart Roberto Martinez admitted the visitors made life "complicated" early on, the Spaniard added: "After this delicate moment, we managed to find a way to hurt them."

Belgium boss Roberto Martinez hailed his side's "incredible" ability to rack up wins even without key men after seeing off Denmark 2-0 in Saturday's Nations League clash.

The world's top-ranked side were without Kevin De Bruyne and Thibaut Courtois for their trip to Copenhagen, while Eden Hazard remained on the bench for the whole game.

Despite the notable absentees, Belgium picked up an 11th win in a row in their first game back after a 10-month hiatus thanks to goals from Jason Denayer and Dries Mertens.

Martinez was pleased to see some of his fringe players step up as the Red Devils made a winning start to their Group A2 campaign.

"After 10 months without playing together, we needed to find some rhythm," he told RTL Sport. 

"Despite everything, we managed to remain threatening, scored a good goal and maintained a good attitude throughout. I am delighted with this performance.

"We miss players like De Bruyne, Hazard and Courtois, and yet the team has shown that they always know how to win. It's incredible!

"There will probably be three changes in the next game because some players can't play longer than 90 minutes. 

"Thomas Meunier will probably play. But we won't make too many changes because we have to create some rhythm."

Denayer, who scored his first international goal on his 14th appearance, echoed the views of his head coach after a hard-fought victory at the Parken Stadium.

"It was difficult at first, but we regained our rhythm as the match progressed," he said. "We had players missing, and yet we have still won. It shows that the squad is very strong."

Denmark struggled to create many opportunities across the 90 minutes, with stand-in Belgium goalkeeper Simon Mignolet making just one save of note to keep out Christian Eriksen.

New head coach Kasper Hjulmand was happy with the overall display of his side but admitted the visitors' quality told in the end.

"I think we played a really good first half," he told Kanal 5. "When Belgium go in front, they are hard to deal with. They stood well and were good at defending.

"Otherwise, I think our first half was perfectly okay. We played with a great deal of intensity and got in good positions. We stopped them creating the same number of chances as usual.

"We handled the first half really well, and there were also 10-12 minutes of the second half, where I think we did what we were supposed to. 

"Then we ran out of intensity and energy. And then you could see the quality of the Belgian team."

Anderlecht youngsters Jeremy Doku and Landry Dimata have been handed their maiden senior call-ups for Belgium, although there was no place for Michy Batshuayi or Christian Benteke in Robert Martinez's squad for next month's Nations League matches against Denmark and Iceland.

Winger Doku, 18, has established himself as a first-team fixture at Anderlecht over the past year, where Dimata, 22, has returned after missing the entirety of last season with knee damage by scoring two in the opening three Pro League games of 2020-21.

"Doku is an exceptional talent," Martinez said. "He brings something very important in modern football and that is his qualities in one-on-one situations.

"Dimata has a special profile. A number nine is a very important profile for us.

"Just that he has already played three matches can be important for us. We have always rated him highly and think this is a good time to include him in the group. "

Benteke has been a mainstay in Martinez's squads up until this point despite a dwindling goals return – he managed six over the course of the previous three Premier League seasons at Crystal Palace – while Batshuayi has struggled for opportunities at Chelsea, where the arrival of Timo Werner does little for his prospects.

"On Batshuayi and Benteke we have had direct contact with their clubs and it turned out that it was better that they did not travel and did not leave the training camp," Martinez said. 

"It is not a football decision. Benteke is in our plans. Batshuayi had a difficult season, but has a lot of credit because of what he did before for the national team. "

Explaining his selections, Martinez suggested players competing in Belgium's domestic competition, such as three-times capped Anderlecht midfielder Yari Verschaeren, had been granted an advantage due to their season already being up and running.

"September will be a strange period," he said. "Some players are coming out of a rest period, so it is a good time to use players who have already gained rhythm.

"Especially for players with a great future. It will be a good experience for players like Doku and Verschaeren."

Thomas Vermaelen was not named in the 29-man group, but Martinez explained the Vissel Kobe defender would be added if his travel from Japan could be cleared.

Belgium travel to face Denmark on September 5 before hosting Iceland three days later in Group A2, which also features England.

Belgium squad:

Koen Casteels (Wolfsburg), Thibaut Courtois (Real Madrid), Simon Mignolet (Club Brugge), Hendrik van Crombrugge (Anderlecht); Toby Alderweireld (Tottenham), Dedryck Boyata (Hertha Berlin), Elias Cobbaut (Anderlecht), Jason Denayer (Lyon), Leander Dendoncker (Wolves), Brandon Mechele (Club Brugge), Jan Vertonghen (Benfica), Timothy Castagne (Atalanta), Thomas Meunier (Borussia Dortmund); Yannick Carrasco (Atletico Madrid), Nacer Chadli (Monaco), Thorgan Hazard (Borussia Dortmund), Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City), Dennis Praet (Leicester City), Youri Tielemans (Leicester City), Hans Vanaken (Club Brugge), Axel Witsel (Borussia Dortmund), Eden Hazard (Real Madrid), Yari Verschaeren (Anderlecht); Dries Mertens (Napoli), Divock Origi (Liverpool), Jeremy Doku (Anderlecht), Landry Dimata (Anderlecht), Romelu Lukaku (Inter), Leandro Trossard (Brighton and Hove Albion).

Eden Hazard can win the Ballon d'Or at Real Madrid, according to Belgium head coach Roberto Martinez.

Hazard swapped Chelsea for Madrid in a blockbuster €100million transfer at the start of the 2019-20 season but the Belgium star has struggled at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Injury and fitness problems have limited Hazard to just 15 appearances in the Spanish capital, where the attacker had not played since February 22 due to a broken ankle prior to the coronavirus pandemic.

But national team boss Martinez – who extended his Belgium contract on Wednesday – is expecting big things from Hazard.

"He can totally win the Ballon d'Or with Real Madrid, without a doubt," Martinez told Cadena Ser.

"Sometimes it takes a difficult start at your new club to give everything you have inside and understand what it means to play in a great club like Real Madrid. 

"Eden does not miss games, he lost 18 games with Chelsea in eight years and this has been circumstantial. The game that was injured against Paris Saint-Germain we already saw Eden with a lot of joy in his football with a great connection with his team-mates. I think Real Madrid fans are confident that he will bring many successes."

Madrid last week returned to their Valdebebas base for the first time in two months, with most major sport across the globe suspended due to the COVID-19 crisis.

The players undertook individual sessions before working in groups on Monday, as LaLiga clubs took a step towards resuming their normal activities – the league hoping to restart in June.

Martinez added: "He is very happy. The footballer Eden is in a moment of great joy, he is very comfortable.

"All the steps have been taken in great detail and I would have had no problem to end the season with Real Madrid and reach the European Championship. I see him very happy and looking forward to some joy this season."

Roberto Martinez hopes to help some of the stars in Belgium's golden generation become the next group of the nation's top coaches.

After extending his contract until 2022 on Wednesday, Martinez is relishing the opportunity to serve as both team manager and technical director for the Royal Belgian Football Federation (KBVB).

As well as bidding to challenge for European Championship and World Cup glory over the next two years, he wants to help star players like Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku take the next step.

He is optimistic the star-studded squad will be impacting the future of Belgian football beyond their playing days.

"It's a real opportunity," Martinez told reporters about holding the two roles.

"In Belgium both jobs overlap in many ways. It allows you to concentrate on the games but in between there is a real good opportunity to work towards that vision that we have for Belgian football.

"I work on many different projects in both professional and amateur football, and then linking the two."

He added: "It is about the development of young players, trying to get those young players everything they need to become Red Devils with the expectations that we have being number one in the FIFA rankings.

"And then the development of the current Red Devils, it is very important that our players now start thinking as coaches. I have got a strong belief these players will affect future of Belgian football as coaches.

"I can see already Jan Vertonghen or Axel Witsel, Kevin De Bruyne, Dries Mertens, Thomas Meunier, Romelu Lukaku, the list goes on – these players will become coaches and will affect future of Belgian football.

"It is important with that global approach of those two positions, I can really be involved in that journey."

Under Martinez, Belgium finished third at the 2018 World Cup and have lost just three of his 43 matches.

They were drawn to face Russia, Denmark and Finland in the Euros, which will now be held in 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Roberto Martinez is targeting the creation of a "beautiful legacy" for football in Belgium after signing a new contract with the nation until 2022.

Having been appointed in 2016, the new deal signed on Wednesday will see him remain as manager for next year's rescheduled European Championship and the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

The Spaniard led the Red Devils to the World Cup semi-finals in 2018, when they were beaten by eventual champions France before defeating England in the third-place play-off to secure their best-ever finish.

"I am very, very happy because it is a very ambitious project," Martinez told reporters after his contract was announced.

"Our president, Mehdi Bayat, has created a very efficient environment for us to work and our CEO, Peter Bossaert, is taking our situation into a different level of professionalism and direction.

"I also believe immensely in this group of players and I am really excited. I feel that everything is in place to work towards a beautiful legacy for Belgian football.

"My family is very happy about this, we feel like an adopted Belgian family. Everyone in Belgium has made us feel very welcome."

Martinez's previous deal was set to expire after Euro 2020, which was postponed by a year due to the coronavirus pandemic, and many expected him to return to club football at the end of the season.

Asked about why he reportedly turned down offers and opted to stay, Martinez, who also serves as the country's technical director, said: "I do believe in this group of players, we have a very committed staff and we all know how much the fans love the Red Devils.

"We were all so intense with the qualification campaign for the Euros, then the postponement of the Euros brings about a completely different situation.

"I felt it wasn't time to break that relationship, it is time now to look forward to a very intense period in international football.

"We have got the Nations League, then already the qualification campaign for the World Cup and then we'll be able to look forward to the Euros.

"It wasn't the time [to go] and I do feel our relationship needs to go further."

Bossaert was delighted to secure the services of Martinez for a longer period.

He said: "We have big challenges coming up with the Nations League, Euros and the World Cup - we believe that Roberto is the right man in the right place to guide our players to success.

"We are very proud to extend the contract. This beautiful generation deserves a top manager and that manager is Roberto Martinez."

Roberto Martinez has penned a new contract to stay on as Belgium head coach until 2022, the Royal Belgian Football Federation (KBVB) has announced.

Martinez was appointed by Belgium in 2016 and his new contract will see him remain in charge of the team through the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

The Spaniard led Belgium's so-called 'golden generation' of talent to the semi-finals of Russia 2018, where they were beaten by eventual champions France before defeating England in the third-place play-off to secure their best ever finish at a World Cup.

His previous deal was set to expire after Euro 2020, which was postponed by a year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Belgium, who are top of FIFA's world rankings, were among the favourites for glory in the tournament after absolutely dominating in qualifying, winning all 10 matches with a plus-37 goal difference.

The announcement was accompanied by a clip of captain and Real Madrid star Eden Hazard playing the popular video game franchise FIFA, while pretending to take a call from international team-mate Romelu Lukaku.

"The coach has signed! The coach has signed, ole, ole, ole. 'Hi Romelu, did you see the coach has signed? Yes, isn't that great news! Okay, bye,'" Hazard says in the short video.

Belgium are due to host a news conference with Martinez later on Wednesday where he will discuss his new contract.

Under Martinez, Belgium has lost just three of their 43 matches and they were drawn to face Russia, Denmark and Finland in the European Championship.

Kevin De Bruyne may have to consider his Manchester City future should the club's two-season ban from the Champions League be upheld, though he has no immediate desire to leave the club.

De Bruyne has been in sensational form for City this season, though football seasons across Europe have either been placed on hold or cancelled due to the coronavirus crisis.

Prior to the suspension of matches, De Bruyne played a starring role as City took a 2-1 lead over Real Madrid in the away first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie.

It remains to be seen whether City will be able to compete in UEFA's flagship club competition over the next two campaigns, with the club having been banned due to breaches of Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations.

Pressed on whether the ban could impact his future at City, De Bruyne suggested a two-year suspension could lead to him considering his options, though he has faith in the club winning their appeal against the sanction.

"I'm just waiting," said De Bruyne in a video interview with HLN Live. "The club has told us that they are going to appeal and that they are almost one hundred percent sure that they are right. 

"That's why I'm waiting to see what will happen. I trust my team. Once the statement is made, I will review everything. 

"Two years [without European football] would be long, in the case of one year I might see.

"But I'm very happy with City. I play for one of the best teams in the world, play in England – for my competitive view the best competition – and I like that. 

"It remains a challenge to be the best and I need that too. What is coming is coming."

Pep Guardiola's future at City is also in doubt, with the former Barcelona boss' contract set to expire in 2021.

De Bruyne, though, refuted the suggestion a decision on his next move will depend on whether or not Guardiola remains at City.

"Not particularly. I think Pep says he will take his year of contract anyway, then his contract ends," De Bruyne said.

"But I'm not going to let my decision depend on what Pep is doing. Of course I have already worked with other coaches and when Pep leaves, I have to continue working with someone else. 

"But I haven't really paid much attention to that for the time being. There are more important things at the moment."

Reports emerged on Saturday claiming Roberto Martinez had extended his contract as coach of the Belgian national team, a move welcomed by De Bruyne.

"The choice was his. Maybe he would have done something different if the European Championship was played this summer. But we have a project, which is far from complete. Stopping now would be weird. It seems logical to me that he renews his contract," De Bruyne said.

"Everyone is happy to stay longer. Why is he a good coach? Well, Martinez has a lot of experience. 

"Tactically, he has learned a lot in England. He let us play in a fixed system, and that works. The team has grown in recent years."

Belgium head coach Roberto Martinez has revealed Eden Hazard is recovering well from ankle surgery and believes he will "return stronger".

Real Madrid forward Hazard fractured his right ankle during a 1-0 LaLiga defeat at Levante in February, having recovered from a similar injury sustained in a Champions League clash against Paris Saint-Germain in November.

The former Chelsea playmaker underwent surgery in the United States before the season was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Martinez gave a positive update on Hazard's condition amid uncertainty over when Madrid will be back in action.

The Spaniard told Belgian media: "I know he is recovering well. He is not far from running again and there are no complications.

"Everything went well with the operation, but you also hope that everything goes well in the four to five weeks afterwards without complications, and there were none."

He added: "We know he will return stronger. We were also fortunate, of course, to have his surgery take place just before the coronavirus outbreak.

"Otherwise he would not be able to travel or be treated outside of Madrid. I have a positive feeling that Eden will be back soon."

Arsenal appear to have strengthened their interest in Nuno Espirito Santo.

Just over two weeks after dismissing Unai Emery, the Gunners are reportedly ready to hold talks with one of the top contenders to take over at Emirates Stadium.

But the Portuguese is not alone when it comes to candidates with Premier League experience.

 

TOP STORY – GUNNERS STEP UP NUNO CHASE

Arsenal will ask Wolves for permission to conduct formal discussions with Nuno next week, according to the Daily Mail.

The north Londoners are reportedly ready to "set to accelerate their interest" in the 45-year-old former Valencia and Porto head coach.

Belgium boss Robert Martinez is also said to have been approached, while Mauricio Pochettino, Mikel Arteta and Patrick Vieira continue to be linked.

Freddie Ljungberg has overseen two draws, a defeat and a solitary victory since taking charge on an interim basis.

ROUND-UP

- Like his former employers, ex-Arsenal boss Emery will not be rushed into a decision on his next move. Marca says the Spaniard has turned down the chance to speak to two Chinese clubs and managerless Everton since becoming a free agent on November 29.

- Premier League champions Manchester City hope to bring wantaway winger Jadon Sancho back to the Etihad Stadium after losing him to Borussia Dortmund in 2017, reports the Daily Mail.

- On the outer at Chelsea, Olivier Giroud appears to be moving closer to the Stamford Bridge exit door. L'Equipe claims the France striker is close to agreeing personal terms on a January switch to Inter, where he would reunite with Antonio Conte.

- Serie A side Milan will be offered the chance to sign Luka Jovic on loan from Real Madrid in January, according to Tuttomercatoweb.

- Barcelona will listen to offers of €10million for teenage defender Jean-Clair Todibo, reports Mundo Deportivo. The Spanish newspaper claims Bayer Leverkusen, Milan, Monaco, Southampton and Watford have submitted bids.

- Real Betis have sealed a deal to sign former Atletico Madrid winger Yannick Carrasco from Chinese Super League side Dalian Yifang, according to Deportes Cuatro.

Eden Hazard is the Michael Jordan of football as Belgium boss Roberto Martinez tipped the Real Madrid star to win the Ballon d'Or.

Hazard – regarded as one of the best players in the world – swapped Premier League outfit Chelsea for LaLiga powerhouse Madrid in a blockbuster transfer prior to the start of the season.

The Belgium international has showed flashes of his brilliance, earning praise for his performances prior to suffering a small ankle fracture.

Asked about Hazard, Martinez likened the Red Devils captain to Chicago Bulls great and NBA Hall of Famer Jordan.

"I see Hazard winning the Ballon d'Or," Martinez told Cadena Ser program El Larguero. "He has the role of being a Ballon d'Or winner.

"What he has done is the level of the Ballon d'Or and he is always eligible for the prize.

"He has done it at Chelsea, in France. It is difficult for a foreigner to be at the reference of a project that works to win the league.

"He is a last-pass player, a Michael Jordan. Hazard is the Michael Jordan of football."

Hazard – who has scored once this season – will miss El Clasico against Barcelona on December 18 due to a small fracture in his ankle.

The Madrid forward was forced off in the 2-2 Champions League draw with Paris Saint-Germain last month.

"It's more the process of the injury," Martinez said on Thursday. "In the game against PSG, he had a setback and now we've discovered that he will spend a bit more time out than expected.

"There's nothing to worry about. You want a player like Eden to be 100 per cent, and now he'd established himself in the team and he was playing well.

"He's in very good physical condition and he'll be back very soon. You don't want to lose players of his level, but a team always has to deal with injuries, suspensions... Real Madrid are well prepared for this."

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