Chelsea Manager Maurizio Sarri Delivers Ultimatum To Eden Hazard
The 27-year-old has flirted on occasion with a move to Real Madrid and if there is real intent, Chelsea are in a quandary. They either need to start weighing up a figure that will comfortably allow them to part with the dynamic playmaker, otherwise risk losing Hazard in a cut-piece or, even worse, for free, or start planning for life without their talisman if contract renewal negotiations don’t come into fruition.
Ahead of Chelsea’s last game of the year this Sunday away to Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park, Blues manager Maurizio Sarri was asked about where the future of Hazard lies.
In his pre-match press conference Sarri stated "I don't know [what Hazard is thinking], but I think that it's time to decide” (SkySports) and went on to concede that it was beyond his capabilities to keep him at the West London club;
"I have not the power to do this.
"I am the coach. I want to speak to him only about the position on the pitch."
A joy to both Chelsea fans and Fantasy Football Players everywhere, Hazard is Chelsea's top scorer this season with 12 goals from 22 matches.
He is well on his way to besting his record tally for the club, 19 goals in the 2014/15 season when Chelsea marched to their fourth – and his first – Premier League title.
In the EPL this season, he has 10 goals, two behind Mo Salah and Harry Kane and three behind frontrunner Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Hazard can currently be found at around 16/1 to win the Golden Boot in 2018/19.
Hazard has been a Chelsea since 2012 after moving from Ligue 1 club Lille for £32million. He has made 322 appearances for the club and registered 101 goals, bagging his century with the recent victory over Watford in which he scored a brace, when, once again, had been deployed as a false nine by Sarri in place of misfit striker Alvaro Morata.
Sarri elucidated as to why, despite Hazard’s preference for the wing;
"He is a great player, one of the most important of Chelsea's history. So I was really confident that he was able to score more."
"I am very happy with him in this role.
"I don't know if he prefers to play as a winger or as a striker, but if he is able to play like the last match in the centre, it is not a problem for me to put him in the centre.
"I cannot see the problem of Hazard in this role. He played four matches as a false number nine, and he scored three goals and two assists. So I cannot see the problem.
"It depends on the moment. At this moment we need to be solid, and with Hazard in this position I think we can become more solid. It's a good option also for the defensive phase.”
There was also a hint of a future signing for a striker to complement Hazard, following reports that the club were interested in a swap deal for AC Milan forward Gonzalo Higuain, currently on loan from Juventus.
"Maybe in the future we will be able to play with a striker and Hazard together."