Chelsea may decide future for Hazard – Sarri

30Dec 2018
By Guardian Reporter
Guardian On Sunday
Chelsea may decide future for Hazard – Sarri

MAURIZIO Sarri suggested that Chelsea could decide Eden Hazard's future for him in January if the Belgian continues to delay talks over a new contract.

Hazard reiterated after scoring twice in Chelsea's 2-1 win over Watford on Wednesday that he intends to postpone any firm decision on his future until the end of the season -- a stance intended to keep his options open if Real Madrid decide to make a push to sign him.

Chelsea are desperate to keep Hazard, and sources have told ESPN FC that the club are willing to pay their superstar more than N'Golo Kante's £290,000-a-week package if he agrees to spurn Madrid and sign a long-term extension to his current deal, which expires in June 2020.

Sarri, exasperated by the relentless speculation around his superstar, believes it's "time to decide" Hazard's future so that Chelsea can plan with or without him.

When it was put to him that Chelsea have little control over the situation as long as Hazard is reluctant to discuss a contract extension, Sarri replied: "I don't think so. The club can decide for him."

Asked if that meant Chelsea potentially selling Hazard in January rather than at the end of the season, he added: "I don't know, but I think it's right that the club knows the future and has the chance to programme [plan] the future."

Madrid are long-time admirers of Hazard, and speculation linking the Belgian with a move to the Spanish capital has only intensified as his contract ticks down. "Yes, I am a bit surprised [it has gone on this long]," Sarri admitted before adding, "but I don't know the past so I can't say anything."

Hazard is not the only high-profile player at Chelsea with an uncertain future. Cesc Fabregas is set to be a free agent at the end of the season and has been linked with leaving to join a number of European clubs in January in search of more regular playing time.

Sarri, however, warned that losing Fabregas during the season would complicate his job. "I think [he will stay], because in this position we have only two players, Jorginho and Fabregas, and so for me, it would be a very big problem to be without Cesc," he continued. "I want him to stay.

"I don't know the final decision of Cesc and the club. If Cesc will go then I think we need to buy another player, and it's not easy because technically Cesc is a very important player, and it's very difficult to find in the market a player with these characteristics."

A sticking point in talks over a new deal for Fabregas is Chelsea's policy of only offering one-year extensions to players over the age of 30, and Sarri hinted that the club's stance is too broad and inflexible.

"There are for sure offers for these players, as you know the big problem is the duration of the new contract," he said. "The policy of the club is only to renew for one year for players over 30 years old. For a player of 31 it's a big problem to sign a new contract for only one year. The problem is only this."

Asked if he agreed with Chelsea's policy, Sarri replied: "It depends on the single situation I think. It's a rule so we have to respect it."