Eden Hazard is, according to Zinedine Zidane, “very close” to returning to the fold at Real Madrid after recovering from his latest injury setback.
The Belgium international has been ravaged by fitness problems throughout his time at Santiago Bernabeu.
That has prevented the former Chelsea star from making the desired impact in Spain, with the 29-year-old still boasting just one goal to his name.
He is yet to figure in the 2020-21 campaign, as Real seek to make a positive start to the defence of their La Liga title, but is edging his way back into contention.
Zidane is looking forward to having a talented performer back at his disposal, telling reporters of Hazard ahead of a clash with Real Valladolid on Wednesday: “I think he’s very close to a return.
“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. What he wants is to be with his team-mates and to play.”
Having Hazard back will allow Zidane to make further tweaks to his tactical approach, with the Frenchman not about to settle on one system after mixing things up through a goalless draw with Real Sociedad and a 3-2 win over Real Betis.
He added: “For me, the most important thing is the balance. We had two up front the other day, but we can play with one on the outside.
“When you have three up front, for example, the winger doesn’t have to stay on the wing. We can move around. We have many options.”
Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo are other alternatives available to Zidane and he insists that the Brazilian duo will see regular game time this season despite questions being asked of their lack of minutes as fellow youngsters such as Joao Felix and Ansu Fati thrive at Atletico Madrid and Barcelona respectively.
Zidane said: “These kinds of questions make me laugh.
“This is Real Madrid and some players will play more and others less. That’s the reality. Those two are barely 20 years old. At that age, sometimes you’ll play and sometimes you won’t.”