Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri has outlined his desire for Eden Hazard to remain at the club but will ultimately respect the forward’s decision.
Hazard, 28, has been consistently linked with a move to Real Madrid throughout the campaign and speculation has intensified as the season reaches a close.
Could Hazard leave Chelsea? Five key things to know…
- Signed from Lille in 2012, Hazard has amassed 350 appearances for Chelsea, scoring 108 goals and registering 78 assists.
- With just a year remaining on his contract this summer speculation has been mounting about his future.
- Real Madrid are set for a summer overhaul with recently-appointed Zinedine Zidane keen to bolster his attacking ranks.
- Last summer, Hazard labelled Real Madrid “the best club in the world”.
- Sarri has now urged Chelsea to “respect” Hazard’s transfer decision amid increasing Real links.
With just over 12 months remaining on his present deal in west London, speculation has been rife regarding Hazard’s future.
The diminutive magician dropped a hint earlier in the season that he would choose a “white shirt” over a blue one when posed a hypothetical question by a Belgian journalist whilst on international duty.
And that speculation has only increased as the season has progressed, but Chelsea remain desperate to retain his services with a two-window transfer ban looming.
Speaking after his side secured third-place in the Premier League, Sarri told reporters that he hopes Hazard remains at Stamford Bridge, but will “respect” any decision the Chelsea talisman makes.
He said: “Eden [Hazard] was tired today so he was on the bench. We tried to win with him later on in the last 25 minutes. I think Eden has played here in Chelsea for seven seasons, trying in every match to do his best and now it’s time to respect his decision, but I hope he will remain with us.
“The season is good. We were in trouble two or three months ago but third place is a very good result. Now we have to go to Baku for the Europa League final and we have the chance for our season to be wonderful.”
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Sarri provides Boston update
After grinding out a goalless stalemate against Leicester City to ensure a third-place finish in his maiden Premier League campaign, Sarri will now direct his attention to the United States.
The Blues should be preparing for a 2,500 mile journey to Baku to face Arsenal in the Europa League at the end of the month, but before that, they will contest in a club friendly across the Atlantic.
As part of a campaign to promote equality and tolerance, Chelsea will travel to Boston to take on New England Revolution at the Gillette Stadium on Wednesday.
The charity event, strongly supported by Roman Abramovich, will see all proceeds pledged to initiatives intent on combating issues of antisemitism and hate crimes.
And while Sarri has backed the cause, the Italian was slightly apprehensive the trip may disrupt his side’s preparations for the all-London European final in Azerbaijan.
He said: “It’s a double feeling. I’m happy because we go there for a good reason. As a coach I am worried because we are tired and need to rest.”