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Why Antonio Conte should hold on to Eden Hazard

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Antonio Conte's decision to let Eden Hazard leave Chelsea in the summer could create a gap in the team which would be too difficult to fill.

According to The Sun, Conte will show the Belgian the door if another club is able to meet the player's current valuation of £50 million.

It is widely understood that Hazard's heart no longer lies with Chelsea and that he might opt for a move to PSG or Real Madrid to rejuvenate his career, having expressed his admiration for both clubs in the recent past.

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He was deemed a key factor in the sacking of former manager Jose Mourinho, owing to his poor performances and lack of commitment.

Conte is believed to be a strict operator who regards discipline and loyalty above anything else - regardless of the quality or reputation of the player and this is leading many to think that Hazard does not fit the bill for the Italian's plans at Chelsea.

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However, Hazard is still a quality player and considering the fact that he is still just 25-years-old, his best playing days are still ahead of him.

Form is temporary, class is permanent

It is to be kept in mind that Hazard is a two-time Chelsea Player of the Year and was voted as the PFA Player of the Year last season for his exemplary performances.

Hazard was the most fouled player in the Premier League last season suffering 113 fouls and created a total of 99 chances, highest in the league.

West Bromwich Albion v Chelsea - Premier League

There were times during last season when the Belgian was even being compared to the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Neymar and Gareth Bale.

Replacing a player with that pedigree and ability will be difficult to achieve.

One of the most skilled players Chelsea have ever had

Hazard brings an attractive style of play to Chelsea, something the fans are not always used to seeing.

His ball control ranks among some of the best in the world. With his low center of gravity and agility, he is able to turn effectively and avoid tackles, much like Gianfranco Zola.

The Belgian uses his pace effectively using sudden bursts of speed when required and has the ability to pass and shoot accurately with both feet. He likes to dribble and take on defenders. In most cases, the only way to stop him is to foul him.

Chelsea FC v Paris Saint-Germain - UEFA Champions League

Players with his kind of individual ability often tend to make selfish decisions. Hazard, however, combines well with teammates and tends to be decisive in the final third with passes, shots and dribbles.

Restricted freedom to play under Mourinho

Mourinho's insistence on focusing on the defensive aspects of the game this season forced naturally attacking players like Hazard, Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas to be burdened with more defensive responsibilities, restricting their ability to play with freedom in attacking positions.

Hazard was not able to express himself the way he did the previous season.

After Hiddink's appointment, Hazard showed flickers of his former self with outstanding performances at Stoke and Norwich but injuries have continued to plague his progress.

FBL-EUR-C1-PSG-CHELSEA

Officials at the club need to believe that the Belgian can bounce back from this rather forgettable campaign and as pointed out above, there have been signs that Hazard has the ability to do that.

Effect of niggling injuries

A combination of groin and hip injuries have disrupted Hazard's campaign and the 25-year-old has struggled to get a decent run of games to show his true worth.

Due to the need for more wins, Hazard has often been pushed into games without perhaps fully recovering from injuries. What the Belgian might need is more time to recover, physically and mentally.

How Hazard can fit into Conte's 3-5-2 formation

Conte is likely to opt for the 3-5-2 formation as he successfully did at Juventus.

Germany v Italy - International Friendly

In the 3-5-2 formation, the wide areas are often occupied by wing backs or out-and-out wingers, neither roles suiting Hazard's style of play.

Hence, his best role would be the attacking midfielder position, in behind the two strikers and slightly ahead of the two central midfielders. From that position, Hazard could cause the most damage.

Point to prove

Hazard owes it to himself and the Chelsea faithful to get back to his former best. Can he show the character needed to put aside the current campaign and speculation and bounce back?

FBL-ENG-PR-SOUTHAMPTON-CHELSEA

With only six games remaining in the season, Hazard will not have enough time to make any reasonable impact, especially with the injury he is currently nursing.

The off season will provide a break from club soccer and Euro 2016 could be an ideal opportunity to prove his true worth and regain some confidence.

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Topics:
Chelsea
Football
Didier Drogba
John Terry
Premier League
Eden Hazard

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