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Sarri resigned to what could be a Hazard-ous move

China Daily | Updated: 2019-04-10 09:03
Chelsea's Eden Hazard in action with West Ham's Mark Noble and Fabian Balbuena as Robert Snodgrass looks on in London, April 8, 2019. [Photo/Agencies]

Blues boss admits keeping Belgian 'not easy' after latest stellar effort

LONDON - Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri admitted it will be hard to deny Eden Hazard a move to Real Madrid this summer, even if a reported £100 million ($130 million) move is "too cheap" for the Belgian.

Hazard was in stunning form as the Blues moved up to third in the Premier League, scoring both goals in a 2-0 home win over West Ham on Monday.

The playmaker accurately described his first strike as "something special" after collecting the ball just inside the West Ham half and jinking past three defenders before coolly slotting home.

However, Chelsea could be forced to cash in on its prized asset, who has just over one year left on his contract and has so far refused to extend his deal.

Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane has made no secret of his admiration for Hazard lately, and, should Chelsea refuse to sell this summer, the Londoners run the risk of losing their top scorer on a free transfer in 2020.

"It (£100m) is too cheap in this market! We have seen in the last few windows every price I think," Sarri said.

"I'm sure the club doesn't want to sell him, but of course we all have to respect his decision, I think.

"He is in the last season of contract, if he wants to have another experience we have to respect it. We will try in any way to convince him, but it is not easy."

The prospect of losing Hazard is even more daunting for Chelsea as it is currently serving a one-year FIFA transfer ban.

"From the technical point of view no, not at the moment," replied Sarri when asked if Chelsea can cope without Hazard.

"Also because it is impossible to find another Hazard. At the moment there is not another Hazard, because the level is too high."

Top-four target

Victory ensured Chelsea moved into third in the Premier League, two points clear of Tottenham and three ahead of fifth-place Arsenal in the race for a top-four finish.

Both its London rivals and Manchester United - five points back in sixth - have a game in hand on Sarri's men.

But Hazard insisted he is focused solely on delivering Champions League soccer for Chelsea next season either via a top-four finish or winning the Europa League.

"For now I am just focusing on Chelsea until the end of the season," said Sarrri, whose side faces Slavia Prague in the first leg of its Europa League quarterfinal on Thursday.

"I want to finish in the top four and do well in the Europa League. We still have a lot to do and then we will see."

With trips to Liverpool and Manchester United to come in Chelsea's last five league games, much will depend on Hazard with Gonzalo Higuain misfiring.

The Argentine striker stated his desire before kick-off to make his move permanent should Chelsea successfully appeal its transfer ban, but he had another night to forget in front of goal.

"When Hazard is able to play like in the last two matches of course for the team it is easier," Sarri said. "We can win against every team."

Having failed to muster a single attack of note in the first half, West Ham sparked into life in the second 45.

Manuel Lanzini and Aaron Cresswell came close after the break, with Sarri growing increasingly frustrated on the sidelines as Chelsea continued to miss chances.

But the Italian was finally able to relax in stoppage time when Hazard was given acres of space to control Ross Barkley's pass and produced a clinical finish to match his performance.

Agence France-Presse

 

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