According to a report on The Telegraph, Chelsea players are worried Antonio Conte could push Eden Hazard towards the Stamford Bridge exit door with his safety-first tactics.
Hazard’s Chelsea teammates are worried he could leave in the summer as he wants to play for a club that will go toe-to-toe against Europe’s best.
Hazard is reportedly not happy with Conte’s insistence on playing him as a false nine and deploying an ultra-defensive tactics in big games.
Chelsea are prepared to pay Hazard over £300,000-a-week to extend his contract past 2020 and ignore interest from Real Madrid and Manchester City but the Belgian is worried Conte’s approach is stifling his abilities on the pitch.
Chelsea had promised Hazard that he would be given the platform to one day win the Ballon d’Or at the club, but his performances in the biggest games are being stifled by Conte’s tactics in big games.
Hazard revealed his frustration after Chelsea’s 1-0 humiliating loss to Manchester City that saw us not get a shot on target against City.
“When you leave the pitch you have the impression that you’ve ran, but that you haven’t played a game of football,” said Hazard. “That’s a pity.
“We could have played on for three hours and I wouldn’t touch a ball. Only at the end it went better. In the last 10-15 minutes we had more possession, but we should have tried to do that all game.
“When the manager plays me up front, I try to give everything. We haven’t played a good game. For me personally it’s difficult to play a good game, when you only touch the ball three times.
“I try to jump towards the long balls. I played against (Nicolas) Otamendi and (Aymeric) Laporte. It’s not easy to win duels against them. We haven’t played with our qualities. If (Olivier) Giroud or (Alvaro) Morata would have played up front, it would have been easier to play those long balls. With me, it’s a little bit more complicated, but I’ve tried to do my best.”
Hazard also criticised Conte for playing him as a false nine in the 1-1 draw against Barcelona at Stamford Bridge.
“In games like this against a quality opposition, it’s difficult. You don’t get a lot of balls. I think I might have touched 25 balls—and 15 of them were flying toward my head,” Hazard said.
“That’s not really playing with my qualities. If I had to choose, I prefer to play like I did in the last 10 minutes, but it’s the manager who has the final word. On the wing I feel more comfortable. That’s my place.”