Eden Hazard’s father has claimed the Chelsea forward’s struggles this season can be attributed to being asked to play through injury.
Hazard was named last year’s PFA Player of the Year after a series of sparkling performances helped Chelsea to the Premier League title, but he has failed to replicate that form in 2015-16 and the London club have suffered as a result.
Chelsea, who sacked Jose Mourinho in December and replaced him with Guus Hiddink on an interim basis, are 10th in the table and exited the Champions League following a 4-2 aggregate defeat to Paris Saint-Germain.
Hazard’s performances have drawn criticism from supporters while his decision to swap shirts with PSG’s Angel Di Maria at half-time at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday drew a smattering of boos from home fans.
Thierry Hazard told Belgian newspaper Le Soir: “The current performances of Eden are related to his injury, a groin inflammation. He has had this injury for three or four months. It’s not something serious but the pain, when it comes, is throbbing. You can compare it to a knife stabbing.”
He added: “Instead of spending time resting and healing freely, Eden has been pushed to play, especially in the important games. He has not had a choice.
“Which player in his career can brag about not having ups and downs? Since the start of his professional career, this is the first time he has faced such difficulties. He is not a machine as far as I know.”
Hazard Snr also played down comments from his son in which he admitted his admiration for PSG and insisted a move away from Stamford Bridge at the end of the season was “out of the question”.
“Let’s be clear: Eden never said that he wants to play for PSG,” he said.
“He just said that it has become a great club, and every player would want to play there. He has a contract until 2020. It’s out of the question for him to leave at the moment.”