Belfast Telegraph

‘This is how I want Chelsea to play’ – Hazard shares Sarri philosophy

The Belgium international has defended the Italian’s first season in charge at Stamford Bridge.

Eden Hazard, right, has hailed Maurizio Sarri, left, for sharing his footballing philosophy (Adam Davy/PA)
Eden Hazard, right, has hailed Maurizio Sarri, left, for sharing his footballing philosophy (Adam Davy/PA)

Eden Hazard has paid tribute to Maurizio Sarri, insisting the Chelsea manager shares his own footballing vision.

Belgium star Hazard defended Sarri’s first season at Stamford Bridge, a campaign in which the ex-Napoli boss’ tenure has often come under intense scrutiny.

Hazard could yet swap Chelsea for Real Madrid in a £100million summer transfer, but for now insists he remains focused on driving the Blues towards a top-four Premier League finish and Europa League glory.

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Eden Hazard has praised Maurizio Sarri, pictured, for his first season as Chelsea boss (Steven Paston/PA)

Chelsea’s ‘Sarriball’ possession-based style has often frustrated Blues fans this term, but Hazard believes the Stamford Bridge men have almost fully grasped their head coach’s methods.

“Statistically it’s my best season. I like to be able to say that, because the way he’s thinking about football is the same way I think about football,” Hazard told Sky Sports News, having reached 19 goals in all competitions this term.

“So it’s easy to understand each other.

“OK, sometimes we lost, but the way he wants us to play is the same way I want Chelsea to play, so that’s why we have a good relationship.

The way he's thinking about football is the same way I think about football

“He came here with his own ideas of how to play and I think we’ve done quite well.

“It’s not simple to play the football he wants to play, but I think now we’re starting to understand how he wants to play.

“We still need to adapt a little bit. But for the first season, we’ve reached the Carabao Cup final, we can still reach the top four and win the Europa League.

“So I think the season is good. Now we just need to see at the end of the season what we have, and if it’s a good season or not.

“We are working a lot, because this manager is different from (Antonio) Conte, different from (Jose) Mourinho.

“When you have a manager like that, it’s not easy to change everything.

“But I think we showed in the last two or three weeks we’re adapting well with this manager, and now we want to finish the season well.”

Chelsea are holding out for big money from Madrid for Hazard, whose current Blues deal expires next summer.

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Eden Hazard, pictured, found the net twice in Monday’s 2-0 win over West Ham (John Walton/PA)

The 28-year-old’s wonder goal kick-started Chelsea’s 2-0 Premier League win over West Ham on Monday, with the Belgium stalwart also adding a late second.

Hazard boasts a league-high combined tally of 28 goals and assists, and Blues boss Sarri has conceded Chelsea may struggle to hold on to their top asset.

“He’s in the last season of contract, if he wants to have another experience we have to respect it,” said Sarri.

“But we will try of course in any way to convince him. But it’s not easy.

“It’s impossible to find another Hazard; at the moment there isn’t another Hazard.”

On-loan striker Gonzalo Higuain admitted Chelsea could be hard-pressed to convince Hazard to stay at Stamford Bridge.

“When a player has a desire it is difficult to change his mind,” Higuain told ESPN.

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Gonzalo Higuain, pictured, believes Chelsea could struggle to hold onto Eden Hazard (John Walton/PA)

“What matters is Eden’s decision and the decision of the board.

“He has not asked me but if it’s what makes him happy I wish him all the best. I hope he can stay.”

PA

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