CHELSEA BOSS MAURIZIO SARRI RESPONDS TO HAZARD’S COMPLAINTS ABOUT PLAYING AS A CENTRE FORWARD

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Chelsea star Eden Hazard has been used as a striker in our last four Premier League games and has scored three times playing as a false nine.

Despite excelling in his role as a false nine, Hazard recently revealed his desire to be played as a winger as he doesn’t see himself as a striker.

Maurizio Sarri successfully converted Dries Mertens from a winger to a striker during his time as Napoli boss and wants to achieve the same thing with Hazard at Chelsea.

“Dries is more of a striker than me,” Hazard said. “I am more like a playmaker. Since I started [playing] football I like to come and touch the ball. Dries is not like this, he just wants to stay in the box. That’s why he scores a lot of goals.

“We are different, but I know Sarri likes to change some positions and that happens sometimes.”

Asked if he thinks he will score more regularly if he plays as a striker full-time, Hazard replied: “Yes, for sure. But I will score more goals also if I play as a winger… my position is winger.

“I feel better as a winger, but like [against Watford] I did well as a striker, against Brighton I did well as a striker, so the manager chooses where to put me on the pitch and then I try to do my best.

“I score more goals, but I don’t feel I play better. I just score more goals.”

Speaking ahead of Chelsea’s Premier League clash with Crystal Palace on December 30, Sarri insisted he would continue to use Hazard as a false nine

“He can play as a winger, or he is able to play in the centre,” Sarri said. “I am really very happy with him in this position, he can score but can open space for team-mates, and come to play with the team-mates.

“I am very happy with his position. But in the future he can play as a winger of course.

“It depends on the moment [whether Hazard plays as false nine]. At the moment we need to be solid. Hazard in this position I think we can be more solid, it is a good option in the defensive phase.

“It depends on the moment. Maybe in the future we will be able to play with a striker and Hazard together, it is not a big problem for us I think.”

“I was really confident [he would score more]. He is a great player, one of the most important in Chelsea’s history. I was really confident he would be able to score more,” Sarri added.

“I cannot see the problem of Hazard in this role. He played four matches as false number nine, scored three goals and two assists, so I am not able to see a problem.”

The Blues have been linked with a January move for Juventus striker Gonzalo Higuain, who is currently on loan at AC Milan. Chelsea striker Alvaro Morata would be sent to replace Higuain at AC Milan, which would allow Hazard move back to his favourite left wing position.

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OTONY
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