One day, Cristiano Ronaldo will pack his bags and leave the Spanish capital. While there isn't a Madridista in this world that can pinpoint a date for that day, everyone knows it's inevitably coming.
Next week, the Portuguese forward will turn 31 years old. If he played for Chelsea, he'd only recieve one year contracts from here on out but fortunately for Cristiano, he doesn't. Despite his age, Real Madrid's No. 7 still has a few years left on his contract and it's unlikely that he'll part ways before negotiations begin.
However, as Cristiano ages, his level of production will inevitably decrease and while many Madridistas would like to stay away from Florentino Perez's galactico approach for the foreseeable future, it's destined that a big-money buy will replace the club legend.
Now with that being said, Cristiano's replacement most likely won't enter the Spanish capital for at least a year considering the looming transfer ban. However, it's always a valid talking point as to who that player could be and how the future manager will adjust Real Madrid's attacking mentality in Cristiano's absence.
Perhaps Cristiano's replacement is already in house - Gareth Bale, James Rodriguez or any current winger out on loan. The aforementioned duo are certainly worthy of the role considering the pair cost the club upwards of €180 million and were looked upon to garner massive roles. If this is the case, then Real Madrid won't have to look far. However, assuming Perez favors other options, then chances are he will invade the market with his free-spending attitude in search for the next 3-time Ballon d'Or winner.
The initial player that comes to mind: Eden Hazard.
The Chelsea creator has been linked with the Spanish giants for quite some time and could provide Real Madrid with an entirely new identity if signed down the road. While the Blues will ruthlessly attempt to convince the Belgian midfielder to stay, money talks and Hazard may look to move away from a club that isn't in Champions League contention for the foreseeable future. If so, reports state the Roman Abramovich will not allow his superstar to leave for less than £80 million.
Money aside, the least of Perez's worries, just how would Hazard affect Real Madrid. Replacing Cristiano is difficult considering his statistical output is extraterrestrial-like but his replacement will not have to mimic his statistical production for Real Madrid to be successful.
While Hazard is no where near the goalscorer that Cristiano is, he trumps the Portuguese in his creation ability. Per Squawka, last season, the PFA Player of the Year bested Cristiano in almost every offensive category not involving goals directly. Hazard tallied just over 30 percent more key passes and chances created than Cristiano in his respective league. The Belgian also completed 87 percent of his passes which is incredible considering he tallied 1,908 successful passes doubling Ronaldo's mark in 38 Premier League games. This number is remarkable considering Hazard is the focal point of the Chelsea offense. While Cristiano has the likes of Gareth Bale and James Rodriguez surrounding him, the Blues heavily rely on the Belgian for his offensive output. When he's off the field or not producing at his highest level, Chelsea struggle.
Hazard's also become much more reliable in the defensive third of the field. While Cristiano opts to stay forward, offering minimal defensive assistance, Hazard tracks back which is a testament to Jose Mourinho's influence. Last season, per Squawka, Hazard recorded a defence score of 279 while Cristiano achieved a score of -16. It doesn't take a genius to realize that based off the statistics, Cristiano provided very little, if anything defensively in La Liga last season. Furthermore, the Belgian tallied 25 tackles as opposed to Cristiano's eight.
The statistics don't lie. The 25-year-old is pound-for-pound, a better creator and distributor than Cristiano. As mentioned prior, the Belgian doesn't currently exhibit the marvelous finishing prowess however he has the better part of the next five years to improve his scoring before he turns 30 and reach a level somewhere near Cristiano's.
Splurging on Hazard wouldn't be a mistake by any means for Real Madrid. He can create, defend and is very seldomly mentioned in the press for anything other than his astonishing footwork going forward. He celebrates with teammates after every goal and doesn't complain if the referee decides not to blow the whistle. As long as Perez is committed to building around his next superstar properly, there's no reason why Hazard couldn't supply Real Madrid with a Cristiano-like presence in all facets of the game.