After an absolutely woeful 2015-16 campaign in which he scored just four times in the Premier League, Eden Hazard rediscovered his very best form as Chelsea won the title.
The Belgian superstar registered 16 goals and five assists from his 36 Premier League games, and was a deserved winner of the club’s Player of the Year award.
Many look back at new boss Antonio Conte’s decision to switch to a 3-4-3 formation following the 3-0 loss as Arsenal as the moment which sparked Chelsea’s title charge.
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The Blues went on a record-equaling 13-match winning run, and Hazard has now praised the Italian manager for implementing tactics which greatly helped his stunning resurgence.
Hazard praises Conte
“I started to play a bit more centrally, like a number ten,” the 26-year-old told Chelsea’s official website, via Goal.
“(Marcos) Alonso was close to me, so he was able to help me when we didn’t have the ball, just like (N’Golo) Kante, (Nemanja) Matic and (Cesc) Fabregas. The new system helped because we have the players who suit the formation.”
Hazard also revealed what Conte told him to do ahead of the season, saying: “The manager said to me I have to try to find Diego Costa. When I play, I always try to pass to him, or look for him to make a run which opens up the space for me to come inside.
“I always try to be close to him, because I know it makes it difficult for defenders when there is two of you, or even three when Pedro or Willian are there as well.”
He continued: “When we remain static, it makes it easier for them to mark us, so I tried to stay close to him and play one-touch football, which worked well.”
Hazard on the Champions League
The 2014-15 PFA Player of the Year also commented on how far he feels Chelsea can go on their Champions League return next season, believing that they will go far provided that the right signings are made this summer.
“The Champions League is a very difficult competition with many good teams who are capable of reaching the semi-finals and the final,” Hazard admitted.
“You never know, but if we continue with the way we’ve been playing this season, we can go far. Maybe with a couple of new players to take the level even higher, we can do well.”
Chelsea’s number ten, who recorded his best-ever Premier League goals tally this year, added: “But it’s not just about quality, you also need a bit of luck.”
Winning or scoring?
Despite a fabulous season on an individual level, Hazard insisted that collective targets are always his main focus, stating: “To be honest, it’s not my objective to score a specific amount of goals, I just want to win games.
“For me, it’s better to win every game in the season and not score, that’s not a problem. I know if I score I can help the team win games.
“In the new system, I’ve been closer to Diego, and closer to the goal, so it’s been easier for me to penetrate, make assists and score goals.”
How well do YOU think Hazard has performed under Conte? How far will Chelsea go in the Champions League next season? Leave YOUR opinion in the comments box below!