Real Madrid are reportedly so confident they'll sign Chelsea talisman Eden Hazard this summer that the Spanish giants have begun determining where he fits in Zinedine Zidane's squad and who he might replace.
The latest wrinkle in football's most protracted transfer tug-of-war, Real's outlook on acquiring Hazard has shifted from that of a "priority" to one of near certainty, according to the Evening Standard's Simon Johnson.
Hazard, 28, has one year left on his current terms at Stamford Bridge. Though his transfer chronicle has seemed never-ending, the Belgian has admitted a decision on his future is coming. Numerous reports have suggested his next step is a move to the Spanish capital, where he'd feature as the centerpiece of a massive overhaul for the 33-time La Liga champs following their disappointing campaign.
The odd man out could be winger Gareth Bale. The Welshman hasn't exactly received assurances from Zidane, who ambiguously said: "We will see. Gareth is a Real Madrid player with two years left on his contract."
Chelsea are understood to be demanding no less than £100 million for Hazard. Real are reportedly resistant to paying such a fee but remain confident the two clubs will find a compromise.
Exacerbating Chelsea's desire to keep Hazard is the two-window transfer ban the London side are facing for a series of improper youth-player signings. The Blues are appealing the penalty and will make their arguments in a hearing Thursday.