Eden Hazard has finally opened up on being made Maurizio Sarri’s ‘new Dries Mertens’

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It’s difficult to be certain about what Eden Hazard makes of his current situation at Chelsea.

The Blues are fourth in the Premier League as they approach their final match of 2018 - a short trip to face Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Sunday.

Hazard has been a key influence in helping his side overturn a slight dip in form following their first defeat of the season against Tottenham late last month.

The Belgian has since scored four and set up five, adding to his season tally of 12 goals and nine assists.

But despite his impressive campaign to date, Hazard is widely thought to have been playing out of position in each of his last five outings.

As was the case at times under Antonio Conte, Maurizio Sarri has favoured deploying the 27-year-old as a central striker in favour of the struggling Alvaro Morata or Olivier Giroud.

The Chelsea boss has been resolute whenever asked to justify his controversial decision, insisting Hazard’s role offers more than meets the eye in a tactical sense.

“In this moment we need this solution because we need to be more solid defensively and with this system we can score and become more solid in the defensive phase,” Sarri told Sky Sports after the 2-1 win over Watford, per the Evening Standard.

Hazard’s new position has seen him likened to fellow Belgian winger Dries Mertens - who netted 28 goals in 35 Serie A appearances for Napoli during the 2016-17 season after Sarri shifted him centrally.

Reflecting on whether he can see himself undergoing a similar transformation, Hazard is convinced it won’t happen.

Watford FC v Chelsea FC - Premier League

“Dries is more of a striker than me,” he said, via ESPN.

“I am more like a playmaker. Since I started [playing] football I like to come and touch the ball. Dries is not like this, he just wants to stay in the box. That’s why he scores a lot of goals.

“We are different, but I know Sarri likes to change some positions and that happens sometimes.”

Watford FC v Chelsea FC - Premier League

Asked if he thinks he will score more regularly if he plays as a striker full-time, Hazard replied: “Yes, for sure. But I will score more goals also if I play as a winger... my position is winger.

“I feel better as a winger, but like [against Watford] I did well as a striker, against Brighton I did well as a striker, so the manager chooses where to put me on the pitch and then I try to do my best.

“I score more goals, but I don’t feel I play better,” he concluded.

Whether Sarri agrees or not, Hazard clearly has strong feelings about which position allows him to contribute his best football.

Will this situation influence whether he chooses to commit his long-term future to Chelsea? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.

Maurizio Sarri
Dries Mertens
Antonio Conte
Alvaro Morata
Olivier Giroud
Eden Hazard

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