Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri has urged the club to confirm Eden Hazard's future as soon as is possible.
The Belgian attacker has been linked with Spanish supremos Real Madrid for a number of years and it is thought that next summer could be the one in which he finally decides to make the switch. And, while he has remained coy on his next move, Hazard has admitted that he would love to play for Los Blancos but would also not mind it if he stayed at Stamford Bridge.
Sarri, who took over from compatriot Antonio Conte during the offseason, has brought the best out of Hazard in terms of scoring, with the winger having registered 10 goals in the Premier League thus far. And he would prefer it if the player's future was sorted out sooner rather than later.
“The club can decide for him," the Italian said, via BBC Sport.
“I think it’s right that the club knows the future, and has the chance to programme the future. I think that the club has to program the future. And I think that they need to start in this period.
“If we want to programme the future, we have to solve this problem.”
Asked if the situation is something he could play a part in resolving, Sarri was pretty blunt.
“No," he replied, "because I do not have the power to do this.
“I am the coach. I am not the president; I am not in charge of the market, I am the coach. I want to speak to him only about the position on the pitch.”
Hazard passed the 100-goal mark for the Blues by scoring twice against Watford on Wednesday and told reporters he wants to become a club legend following the stellar performance.
The player has been operating as a striker in a false 9 role under Sarri these past few games and has scored three goals along with two assists since being switched from his natural position on the left. He claims to enjoy playing more centrally this season but also said that he prefers being used on the wing.
“I cannot see the problem of Hazard in this role, he played four matches as false number nine, and he scored three goals and made two assists. So I am not able to see the problem," Sarri explained after facing questions on the positional switch.
“I am really very happy with him in this position, because he’s very able to score, first of all, but he’s very able to open spaces for the team-mates, to come and play with the team-mates. So at the moment I am very happy with him in this position, but in the future he can also play as a winger of course.
“I don’t know if he prefers to play as a winger or a striker, but if he is able to play as in the last match in the center for me it’s not a problem to put him in the center.”
What This Means
Hazard is contracted to Chelsea until June 2020 yet leaving for Spain in the summer is a huge possibility. So far, he has expressed loyalty to the club but has made no secret of his admiration for Madrid.
Only time will tell what happens on that front next year, but the main focus for Chelsea at the moment should be finishing in a Champions League place. They will have a summer plus more to convince the player to sign an extension, something he will be more inclined to do if they achieve their goals for the season.