Eden Hazard could finally get the chance to play central role

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Football News

In late November 2015, during the height of Chelsea's disastrous Premier League campaign, Jose Mourinho took drastic action to try to coax the very best form out of Eden Hazard.

The Belgian, fresh from winning the PFA Player of the Year award, had performed something of a disappearing act, and rumours were starting to swirl that the two had completely fallen out.

Mourinho was well on his way to the Stamford Bridge exit door by this time but he knew Hazard had the ability to save his job. He finally submitted to something Hazard had long asked for: a chance to play in a central position.

As one of the most creative players on the planet, Hazard craved freedom from the shackles of his left-wing role. Although he played incredibly well out wide in Chelsea's title-winning campaign, he seemed to feel that his true potential lay in the No.10 role.

Mourinho gave him an opportunity to prove it against Norwich, in which he put in arguably his best performance of the season, helping the Blues to a 1-0 win. Hazard later said he preferred a central role and was hoping to get more chances to play there. Those opportunities never came under Mourinho or his temporary successor Guus Hiddink.

New position

But Hazard may finally have a manager who appears willing to give him a decent crack at proving himself in the same role that Mesut Ozil plays for Arsenal. Antonio Conte confirmed he sees Hazard as capable of playing behind the striker in a recent press conference. 

On the question of Hazard up front, Conte said: "I like him in this position, like a forward. It can be a good solution for us. He can play as a winger - but also he can play as the second forward.

"He must improve his shape but he is working hard and his shape can improve a lot, the same as the other players."

Good vibes

The signs are definitely good. Hazard has only been training with the Blues at their US camp for a week but was given 45 minutes to impress during a recent friendly against Real Madrid.

He played behind fellow Belgian Michy Batshuayi in a 4-4-1-1 system and was a constant threat, scoring twice. Unfortunately, Real Madrid had already amassed an impregnable 3-0 lead by the time he got onto the pitch.

It was clear Hazard was enjoying the freedom afforded to him but Conte is by no means sold on the idea. Indeed, he would ideally play with two frontmen and is still chasing Romelu Lukaku while Diego Costa is set to return from a back injury.

Should Antonio Conte play Eden Hazard in the No.10 or is he best on the wing? Give us your thoughts in the comment box below!

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Didier Drogba
John Terry
Premier League
Eden Hazard
Jose Mourinho

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