Former Chelsea favourite Gianfranco Zola believes Eden Hazard’s current struggles “will be good for him” in the long run.
Hazard’s drop off in form this season has been symptomatic of Chelsea’s troubles, with the Belgium international a shadow of the player who claimed the PFA Player of the Year award in 2014-15 as Jose Mourinho’s men cruised to the Premier League title.
Hazard, who joined Chelsea from Lille in 2012, has been dropped on occasion after failing to score in 18 appearances in all competitions with Chelsea out of the League Cup and fifth bottom of the Premier League after 12 games.
Al-Arabi coach Zola, a diminutive attacker in the mould of Hazard who played for Chelsea between 1996 and 2003, is nevertheless confident he will emerge a better player.
“Hazard is in a similar situation to I was at Chelsea in my second year,” he told Omnisport.
“The first year was very good, as it was for Hazard, he did so much, received so much recognition and now the spotlight is on him all the time and this is making everything he does a little more difficult.
“Every player goes through this but in a way I think it will be good for him as it will make him think more about his game a bit more.
“So it’s an opportunity for him to become a better player. He is young and has the potential to be one of the best.”
Zola was equally positive about Mourinho, backing him to turn around Chelsea’s fortunes.
“From the outside you can see it’s not working,” he added. “The last game [a 1-0 defeat at Stoke] gives you an idea. They played well but the ball didn’t go in. On the other hand they [Stoke] created a chance and they scored and then they defended really well.
“If you want to come out of this situation you have to work really hard and stick together.
“Mourinho is the right person, he has done so much for Chelsea, he has won so much and he has the experience to come through this.
“He is a good manager, no-one can doubt him. Sometimes seasons don’t go the way you want, that doesn’t take anything away from your qualities.
“There is plenty to play for, the Champions League and the FA Cup so a season that has not been good so far they can turn around.
“It’s a good opportunity for Chelsea to be stronger.”
Zola thinks Chelsea captain John Terry will be a key man if the west London side are to climb the table over the coming months.
He said: “John is always a very good influence in the changing room. He is a player that all the others look up to. I am sure he’ll be pushing everyone to get to his standards and perform well.”