Hazard is in Ancelotti's plans for Real Madrid next season

Joe Wright
Stats Perform
22/01/202214:17
Real Madrid winger Eden Hazard
Real Madrid winger Eden Hazard

Carlo Ancelotti says Eden Hazard is in his Real Madrid plans for next season as the Belgium star shows signs of finding form at last.

Hazard scored an extra-time winner to send Madrid into the Copa del Rey quarter-finals at Elche's expense this week, having assisted Marco Asensio in the 3-1 win at Alcoyano in his previous appearance.

It means the 31-year-old has been involved in as many goals in his past two games as he was in his previous 17, suggesting he is starting to find his feet at last in LaLiga.

Hazard has reportedly already rejected approaches to leave this month, including from Newcastle United, and Ancelotti seems keen to keep him for the longer term.

"Yes, he's in the planning for next season," the Madrid coach said ahead of Sunday's league game with Elche.

Asked if it might be a good day for Hazard to be in the starting line-up, Ancelotti replied: "Yes, it's a good day. Hopefully, it will be a good day."

Isco also got on the scoresheet against Elche to underline his value as another option for Ancelotti, while the Italian says Gareth Bale, who has not played for the club since August, is also close to a return.

"Isco doesn't have injuries, but Bale has been out for longer than Hazard. Each one is a different case," he said.

"Gareth is getting back to having a good physical condition, he's improving, he's starting to train every day with the team."

Dani Ceballos has also returned to the Madrid set-up after a long injury absence, playing three times this month, and Ancelotti hopes he will prove a useful player for the rest of the campaign.

"He's starting to be well, to improve his physical condition," he said. "I like him on a personal level, for his character, for his lack of fear in playing games and making plays.

"He'll certainly have an important role in the second part of the season."

Madrid head into the weekend with a four-point lead over Sevilla at the top of the table, while champions Atletico Madrid are 13 points adrift in fourth and Barcelona down in sixth.

Ancelotti accepts it is a surprise to see their biggest rivals struggling.

"Of course, we can talk about them, what two great teams, two great clubs are doing, and of course we're surprised they're having more difficulties than normal," he said.

"They're still both great rivals, with sufficient quality to get out of any complicated situation."

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