Chelsea must ‘respect’ Eden Hazard’s decision to join Real Madrid, club captain Cesar Azpilicueta has said.
Reports in French newspaper L’Equipe claim the Belgian is close to agreeing an £86million move from Stamford Bridge to the Bernabeu this summer.
And while it is likely nothing will be announced until after Chelsea’s Europa League final against Arsenal in Baku on May 29, it is understood Hazard has informed the club of where he believes his future lies.
And Azpilicueta believes Chelsea must respect Hazard’s decision should he make the switch to the Spanish capital.
‘Obviously Eden is a very important player for us,’ Azpilicueta told Sky Sports.
‘We arrived here at the same time and obviously we want him to stay with us – but we have to respect his decision.
‘He is a Chelsea player and his mind is only doing well with Chelsea and on lifting the trophy in Baku – and then we will see.’
Hazard has only a year left on his Stamford Bridge contract and has not shown any inclination to sign a new deal with the club.
As a result Chelsea are set to cash in on the Belgian despite his importance to the team and their imminent two-window transfer ban for breaking rules over the signing of players under 18.
Hazard scored 16 goals in 37 Premier League appearances this season. He also provided 15 assists, the most in the league, and was awarded the playmaker trophy on Sunday after Chelsea’s 0-0 draw at Leicester City.
After the game, Hazard revealed he had informed the club of his desire to leave for Real this summer.
He said: ‘I have made my decision but it is not just about me. I told the club a couple of weeks ago. I wanted it to be cleared up earlier but that’s not happened. I’m still waiting, like the fans are waiting.’