Eden Hazard cut a forlorn figure as Real Madrid players celebrated winning the Spanish Super Cup back in January, and while things were a bit different during the parade at the Plaza de Cibele in May, there can be no denying that the Belgian star would not have been too joyous deep down.
Los Blancos won the La Liga and Champions League titles during what was a very impressive 2021-22 campaign, but the former Chelsea talisman barely played any part, featuring in just 83 minutes as Carlo Ancelotti's side secured their 14th European Cup, and starting just seven games in the league.
The 31-year-old took to the microphone in front of the fans, admitting his struggles over the last three seasons and promising that 2022-23 was going to be a year he gives everything.
While the new season is just three games gone, the initial signs have not been too good for Hazard, and just maybe a temporary or permanent exit would do both club and player a world of good.
The new UEFA Champions League season will kick off next Tuesday night with Celtic playing host to Real Madrid at the Celtic Park. The Los Blancos head into this match as champions league standings top-favourite having proved their in a back-to-back victories.
The attacker featured in all three games during the pre-season tour of the USA, scoring once from the spot during the 2-2 draw with Club America, but was not particularly eye-catching in any of those games.
He watched from the bench as Madrid secured a 2-0 victory over Eintracht Frankfurt in the UEFA Super Cup, and that did not surprise anybody.
To his credit, Hazard returned from the summer break in great physical condition and he showed a desire to finally hit the ground running, but that has not happened this season.
He came off the bench in the league wins over Almeria and Celta Vigo, but his penalty miss against the latter is only the noticeable action fans have seen from him so far.
The Belgian arrived at the Santiago Bernabeu in the summer of 2019 on a five-year deal as their most expensive signing of all time with a lot of promise.
He had left Chelsea after helping them to two Premier League titles, winning every individual award available in the English top-flight - 23 of them - but injuries have dealt a massive blow on his chances of impressing in Spain.
It is fair to say his struggles in Real Madrid colours are not entirely his faults, but he joined them five kilograms heavier, and has not recovered since.
However, his problems did not particularly start that summer.
Back in late 2019, Hazard's former teammate at Stamford Bridge for five seasons, Mikel Obi, revealed that the Belgium international did not fancy putting in the hard yards in training.
Nevertheless, the Nigerian admitted that his laziness at Cobham did not affect his performances on the pitch, hailing his natural abilities, but has that come back to haunt him?
Cristiano Ronaldo is known as one of the hardest workers in the game, and it is not surprising that he is still going strong at 37.
Samuel Eto'o famously said in 2014:
"Ronaldinho is the greatest footballer of all time and was the best footballer in the world. He's unbelievably strong, but at a certain moment, if you don’t train every day, you will pay for it. You can be Ronaldinho. You can be Messi, if you don’t train Mr Eden Hazard after two years we will forget you. Football moves fast."
Eto'o is no prophet, but he watched Ronaldinho lose his magic and was quick to sound out a note of warning to Eden.
Years of failing to train hard come with consequences, and unfortunately, one of the best players on the planet at a time simply cannot cheat nature.
It will take a lot of effort for him to get back to his best, but time is not on his side.
Hazard needs to be playing regularly to regain his once-blistering form, but Ancelotti cannot afford to give him that luxury right now given the attacking talents in this squad.
Madrid fans are hoping they can see the Chelsea version of this player tipped to replace Ronaldo, but the chances of that happening get slimmer by the day.
With two more years still left on his deal, it is safe to say an extension is not in the pipeline, and Florentino Perez probably regrets handing Hazard such a contract right now.