Eden Hazard says he was “less happy” training under Maurizio Sarri and Antonio Conte at Chelsea, but has rediscovered his love for the game since moving to Real Madrid.
The Belgian winger has criticised the “rigid and repetitive” nature of both Italian coaches’ managerial philosophies despite winning three trophies under the duo, including a Premier League title.
How did Hazard get on under Conte and Sarri? Five things to know…
- Hazard played under both Conte (2016-18) and Sarri (2018-19) at Chelsea, winning three major honours.
- The 29-year-old was instrumental as the Blues lifted the 2016/17 Premier League title during Conte’s maiden season.
- He also shone as Chelsea clinched the FA Cup the following year and last season, as Sarri’s side won the Europa League.
- In fact, Hazard enjoyed his most productive season under Sarri in 2018/19, scoring 21 goals and registering 17 assists.
- However, the Belgian has since hit out at both Sarri and Conte for their training-ground methods, and says he’s now “happy” again at Real.
Both managers are renowned for their demanding training-ground methods and tactical discipline, which certainly yields results – as their respective careers would point to – but doesn’t necessarily elicit pleasure according to Hazard.
The diminutive forward produced some of his best football under both coaches but at a price, as he has since revealed his enjoyment for the sport eroded during his latter days at Stamford Bridge, though that spark has now returned since relocating to the Bernabeu.
“In training, we are always using the ball… there’s movement and mini-matches,” Hazard told Sport Magazine. “When you meet Italian coaches like I did (Conte, Sarri…) you are less happy.
“They are more rigid and repetitive. You find pleasure in victory. I spent three years with Italian coaches so to rediscover this pleasure again makes me happy.”
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Hazard: Real contact was made in 2016
Hazard’s switch to Real was one of the transfer sagas of the summer but the move could have materialised a few years prior, with the Belgian now admitting that current head coach Zinedine Zidane first made contact in 2016.
Hazard said: “I didn’t talk much with him [before joining].
“The first time was during the 2016 European Championship in France. He called me and said: ‘It would be good if you came.’
“When Zidane calls you, it’s serious!”
Hazard has endured a tentative start to his Los Blancos career, so far netting just the single goal across 13 appearances in all competitions.
He has been out of action since sustaining an ankle injury in November, but is expected to return to the pitch next month.