Aston Villa forward Christian Benteke says his Belgium team-mate Eden Hazard dreams of playing for Real Madrid, despite his big-money move to Premier League side Chelsea in the summer.
The 21-year-old attacking midfielder has been in sensational form for the Blues since his £32 million move from Lille, netting five times and providing 14 assists in 25 appearances.
However, in-form Villa striker Benteke is close friends with Rafa Benitez’s young star, and suggests he wants to head to the Bernabeu at some stage in his career – and it could be sooner rather than later.
“I am not surprised at Eden’s success with Chelsea – and he can do even better,” he told reporters. “He has the qualities needed to become an even greater player. His dream is to join Real Madrid – so I don’t see why he can’t join them in a year or two.”
The two players used to play in Belgian junior teams together, and the closeness between them will potentially alarm Chelsea fans who are wary about losing one of their prized assets.
“[Hazard] would play No.10 and I was No.9 and there was an understanding between us straight away.
“He has a bit of fantasy about him and so do I. We are good mates.”
Benteke suggests that the downside to a huge transfer fee and the adulation of the fans is that Hazard has to perform week in, week out – but he believes the winger has the talent to do so.
“He has already told me what his life is like with the high levels of expectation.
“He has been signed for many millions of pounds and he will always have the pressure of his price tag.
“He will forever have to do more than the others, he is condemned to always be at the top of his game.
“He realises this and he relishes the challenge. His fantasy football takes off some of the pressure on him. Eden dares to try things and is not afraid to face up to his responsibilities,” he added.
The two players will meet up again when Aston Villa travel to Chelsea on Sunday afternoon looking for three points to send them into 13th position in the table. The Blues meanwhile could go third with a home victory.