Chelsea face a scrap to re-sign midfielder Thorgan Hazard should they wish to bring the Belgian back to west London, after his club Borussia Monchengladbach claimed the buy-back inserted in his contract no longer exists. The 23-year-old made his loan move to the Bundesliga side permanent in February 2015 but the Premier League side retained the right to bring him back to Stamford Bridge at their request.
German publication Bild claimed an offer of €15m [£13m, $16m] from Antonio Conte's side would activate the clause and see Hazard reunite with his brother Eden. The publication went on to suggest that the club were running out of time to make use of the stipulation prior to its expiration.
But in an attempt to defuse the speculation regarding Hazard's future, director of sport Max Eberl has confirmed that there is no clause in the player's contract. Hazard has scored seven goals and made three assists in 11 appearances already this term but Monchengladbach are unprepared to allow him to leave for Chelsea without a fight.
"There is no clause. There is also no end date of anything [to trigger a clause]," Eberl told Express. "But we also need to make no secrets from it: If we get a top player from Chelsea, then Chelsea has of course again and again the possibility [to bid for the player], but actually there is nothing active!"
The news is at odds with the statement released by Chelsea last year after they had struck an agreement with Monchengladbach. The club confirmed the option to re-sign Hazard and said they would "continue to monitor his progress". Eberl's claims could well indicate that any agreement may have expired.
Despite a spate of goals at the start of the campaign, Monchengladbach have already suffered defeat twice in the Bundesliga this season and after currently ninth after six games, two points adrift of the Champions League places. Hazard meanwhile has dismissed any notion of him moving back to Chelsea and insists he is fully committed to his parent club.
"Chelsea? I'm not thinking about a move," he told Het Laatste Niuews. "I'm happy in Germany. But I don't know my limits at all. Eden jokingly says sometimes: 'Calm down, bro. The people might start to think you're better than me'."