Arsene Wenger has taken exception to the poor performances of Chelsea star Eden Hazard after he failed to impress for Belgium at the World Cup.
Hazard was labelled as the jewel in the crown for Marc Wilmots star-studded squad. Despite little experience in major tournaments, Belgium were expected to go far in Brazil with Hazard tipped to be a contender for the Golden Ball.
However, the Red Devils seemingly never got going and, despite exiting at the quarter-final stage in a narrow 1-0 defeat to Argentina, left having disappointed neutral fans, who were expecting exciting football from the young, pacey and talented team.
'An exceptional player'
Arsenal boss Wenger was particularly disappointed in Hazard's no show, saying he expected the 23-year-old to translate his outstanding Premier League form into football's biggest tournament. He does, however, go on to state that he believes his time will come in four years time.
Asked if Hazard lived up to expectations, Wenger told beIN SPORTS: "No, he did not play as well as I know he could and in the Premier League he is an exceptional player and he is a fantastic player who makes things happen and I always had the idea that with Hazard nothing affects him.
"In the big games he is great but in this tournament when Belgium really needed him he could not really deliver and I believe it's mental.
"He is still young and the World Cup belongs to people between 25 and 30, you know, and we have seen Messi before going to World Cups and being anonymous. And whilst he was dominant for his club, he struggled for Argentina."
The comments are likely to reach the ears of Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho, who has never shied away from a war of words with his Arsenal counterpart. However, Mourinho himself has also criticised Hazard in that past, and it is true that Wenger is not the only one baffled by Hazard's sudden mediocrity.
Mourinho himself caused a stir earlier this season after questioning Hazard's commitment to the team. He also whipped up a storm after calling Wenger a 'specialist in failure'.
It is therefore possible that Mourinho will perhaps agree with Wenger, but no one will be surprised if the Special One takes the chance to respond to Wenger's comments. He could see it as a chance to get an early mental edge over his Premier League title rival ahead of the new season.
Wenger's Hazard affinity
The comments are likely to hit a note with most Chelsea fans, who are firmly aware of Wenger's affinity towards their most prized asset. While at Lille, Arsenal were linked with a move for Hazard from the moment he hit the headlines.
It was also revealed by Wenger himself that he held talks with Hazard's agent before his move to Chelsea, but confirmed Arsenal did not have the finances available to sign him. He eventually moved to Stamford Bridge in a £32 million move - a similar fee Arsenal have just forked out for Alexis Sanchez.
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