Zidane: “Hazard is a professional and is very close to a return”

Zinedine Zidane has responded to claims that Eden Hazard returned to pre-season training overweight, leading to question marks around his professionalism.

The Real Madrid winger was supposedly seven kilograms overweight when he joined the La Liga giants last summer.

Hazard managed to score just one goal in his debut season, and spent most of the year on the sidelines with an ankle injury.

Further fuel was added to the fire when he failed to play a single minute of Belgium’s recent UEFA Nations League games, despite being called up by Roberto Martinez.

However, Zidane has played down any talk of a lack of professionalism or general fitness, insisting he is still feeling the effects of a long-term injury, and he will be back in action soon.

“Hazard is very close. He’s training with the squad, he does well,” Zidane said.

“Hazard didn’t lack professionalism. He’s had a big issue. The ankle has bothered him for a long time. He’s the first who wants to be okay.

“What we want, and him above all, is for him to be free from those niggling problems. The season is very long. He wants to be with his team-mates, to help and to feel good.

“He looks very close. He’s ready. He is training well with the team. We know he hasn’t trained much up until now.

“Now he is training regularly with us and he is looking good. Let’s see how we do things.”