Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri believes Eden Hazard could leave the club to fulfil his potential with the Belgian attracting interest from Real Madrid.
Hazard’s contract with the Premier League club expires in 2020 and he has so far refused to extend that deal despite Chelsea’s efforts.
The Blues have stood firm in rejecting bids for Callum Hudson-Odoi from German giants Bayern Munich for the 18-year-old.
Hudson-Odoi is also out of contract in 2020, but Sarri intimated the club’s stance may be different and they may cash in on Hazard in the summer should he express his desire to leave.
“The situation of Eden is different. Eden is 28. If he wants to go, I think he has to go,” said Sarri ahead of Wednesday’s trip to Bournemouth.
“Of course, I hope the opposite. I hope he wants to stay here.
“He has the potential to be the best player in Europe at the moment.
“Sometimes he’s happy with something less. It’s my job to improve him and put him in a position to do his best.”
Sarri branded Hazard “more an individual player than a leader” last week and has routinely called for his star forward to hit the heights he showed early in the season on a more consistent basis.
However, Hazard’s form has also suffered due to Sarri’s decision to play him in an unfamiliar centre-forward role in recent months prior to the loan signing of Argentine striker Gonzalo Higuain.
“I don’t care. I just play my football,” Hazard said of Sarri’s criticism after a 2-1 win over Tottenham on Thursday to progress to the League Cup final on penalties.
“It doesn’t matter what the manager said. I just focus on my football and want to do my best for this team.”