Harry Redknapp believes Eden Hazard's terrible form for Chelsea is a clear indication that someone has got into his head, suggesting he has already been tapped up by another club.
The Belgium international was the best player in England last season but has completely regressed in the current campaign. He has just one goal – a penalty against MK Dons – and looked absent-minded in their recent game against PSG.
His future at Stamford Bridge has been shrouded in doubt for much of the season but speculation kicked into hyperdrive after the 24-year-old talked up a move to the French outfit just days before he took to the field in Tuesday's tie.
It was the biggest indication yet that Hazard will be looking to leave at the end of the season and his poor performance against Laurent Blanc's men only threw further fuel onto the fire.
To Redknapp, it seems clear that he is intent on leaving west London in the summer transfer window and believes he has already been told a club will give him the offer he wants. Having spent decades playing the managerial game, Redknapp knows exactly how transfers work these days and says Hazard is a classic case of tapping up.
He told The Mirror: "Chelsea will have a battle on their hands because people must already be talking to Hazard. It happens. Someone’s got inside the boy’s head. It is the only explanation for such a complete drop in performances.
"I had a meeting, as Spurs boss, with Hazard in a Paris hotel when he was at Lille. Players I’ve had have been approached, too — you’re not happy, but you accept it is part of the game.
"Most big deals happen that way, let’s not kid ourselves. One club doesn’t ring another club anymore. Every club could be hauled up before FIFA or the FA because everyone breaks the rules.”
Despite his poor form, Hazard is likely to have offers from several top clubs this summer. PSG have held a long-term interest while Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane is a big fan of the winger.
However, Chelsea are set to hire a new manager this summer and, depending on who it is, Hazard may find the grass looking greener at Stamford Bridge. As a result, Redknapp has called on the PFA Player of the Year to hold tight and see who the new manager is before completely severing his ties with the Blues.
Redknapp added: “A lot will depend on who comes in as manager at the end of the season.
"Whoever it is, it will be his top priority to keep Chelsea’s most creative player. He fell out with Jose Mourinho — that much was clear — and he may love [interim Blues boss] Guus Hiddink but you can’t just turn your best form on and off.
“He went off the boil in the first half of the season and now he can’t seem to switch it back on again. That’s the time when the club need to be supportive, not chuck him by the wayside. The problem is, agents and rival clubs create uncertainty in players.
“The really big transfers take months of chat behind the scenes to negotiate and if you are the club that doesn’t want to sell, you have to hope the player shows the strength of character to remain loyal.”
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