Maurizio Sarri believes now is the time for Chelsea to decide on Eden Hazard’s future at the club amid continued speculation.
Links with a move to Real Madrid for the Belgium international have persisted, with the winger recently refusing to be drawn on whether he would commit long term to Chelsea and extend a contract that expires at the end of next season.
Hazard said he was “just focused on the pitch” after scoring twice in Chelsea’s 2-1 win over Watford on Wednesday, the 27-year-old having now scored four goals in his last four games.
Asked about whether Hazard will remain with the club in his pre-match media conference ahead of Chelsea’s Premier League clash with Crystal Palace, Sarri said: “I don’t know but it’s time to decide.
“I am the coach. I am not the president, I am not in charge of the market, I am the coach. I want to speak to him only about the position on the pitch.
“I think we have to solve the problem.”
Hazard has flourished playing in the middle as a false nine, but, despite his excellent recent form, the ex-Lille man has insisted his preferred position is on the wing.
Sarri faced continued questioning from reporters about the decision to move him into the middle, but sees no issue with using Hazard’s flexibility to play in both roles.
“He is able to play as a winger. He is able to play in the centre of the pitch,” Sarri explained.
“I am really very happy with him in this position because he is very able to score and to open spaces for the team-mates. He is able to come and play with the team-mates. I am happy with him in this position but he can still play as a winger, of course.
“He is a great player. One of the most important in Chelsea’s history, I think, so I was really confident that he would be able to score more [from the middle].
“I don’t know if he prefers to play as a winger or striker. But if he is able to play like he did in the last match in the centre, then for me it is not a problem to put him in the centre.
“I cannot see a problem of Hazard in this role. He played four matches as a false number nine and he scored three goals and got three assists. So I am not able to see the problem.”
One player Sarri will not have the services of for the trip to Palace on Sunday and likely the visit of Southampton and the FA Cup tie with Nottingham Forest is Pedro.
Sarri said: “Pedro has an injured hamstring and I think that he will have to rest for about 10 days.”