Eden Hazard has told France Football he wanted to leave Chelsea last summer, but has also not ruled out staying with the club with he and coach Maurizio Sarri sharing “the same footballing ideas.”
Hazard said that in Sarri — unlike more-pragmatic predecessors such as Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte — he has found someone who, like himself, values plaudits more than prizes, which the Belgian concedes “perhaps sets me apart among the best players in the world.”
“We have the same footballing ideas,” Hazard said of Sarri, who has seen his star midfielder produce 10 goals and as many assists in 22 top-flight outings this season to keep Chelsea in the hunt for a top-four finish.
“He’s close to the game. The coaches before were perhaps a bit less so. For them, it was more important to win, to defend well. Even if, for him too, you have to defend well. Training sessions aren’t easy, we go over the same things a lot. But once out there on the pitch for 90 minutes he wants us to have the ball.”
Nonetheless, Hazard’s future in unclear. After helping Belgium to a best-ever third-place finish at the 2018 World Cup, he was widely expected to end his six-year stay at Chelsea with Real Madrid the favourites to sign him.
Hazard replied “Why not?” when asked whether he would be happy to move to the reigning European champions. But as he and Chelsea dance carefully around an extension to his current deal, which expires in 18 months, the 28-year-old is keeping all his options open.
“I’ve seen all there is to see, I’ve won everything here, the two cups, the league, apart from the Community Shield, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to leave,” Hazard said.
“I have always said that after England, I wanted to discover something else. But there are things that could make me stay too.”
He added: “I’m not far off the peak of my career, that’s sure. Even if things can always be better, that’s for sure too. I’m at a crossroads, yes. We’re going to take the right turn.”
One of the factors that could keep Hazard in a Blue shirt would be the £300,000-a-week Chelsea are reportedly ready to pay him to prolong his association with the club he joined in 2012 from Lille.
But Hazard claimed he is more interested in entertaining than money or even winning, citing the recent 1-0 Carabao Cup semifinal first-leg defeat to Tottenham as a match in which he “wasn’t happy, because we had lost but deep down inside, I was happy with my performance and our performance.”