Eden Hazard is not a leader to haul Chelsea out of their current malaise, according to Maurizio Sarri.
The Blues head coach questioned his team’s mentality and desire in unflinching assessment of Saturday’s 2-0 Premier League loss at Arsenal.
Hazard was once again deployed as a false nine in the Emirates Stadium defeat, a game in which he operated largely on the periphery.
The Belgium star’s time operating in a central attacking role is likely to come to an end soon, with Gonzalo Higuain on the brink of completing a loan move to Stamford Bridge, although Sarri was keen to challenge the 28-year-old ahead of Thursday’s EFL Cup semi-final meeting with Tottenham.
Hazard captain’s his country but, when asked whether he could be an inspiration to his team-mates as they address a 1-0 first-leg deficit from Wembley, Sarri replied: “I don’t know, in this moment he is more an individual player than a leader.
“He is very important to us, of course, because he is a great player.
“He always can win the match in two minutes, sometimes in one minute. But at the moment he is not a leader. He’s a great player, one of the best in the world.”
In an interview with France Football this week, Hazard claimed to have frustrated all his coaches during his career, while stating he remained undecided over his future amid long-standing links to Real Madrid.
“Sometimes,” Sarri chuckled when asked whether his star man frustrated him. “I prefer him when he speaks with his feet.
“I think that he said that coaches told him he needs to do more. He has to do more because the potential is higher than the performances, I think.
“He has to respect, first of all, himself. He has to do more.”
Six minutes added time to play here.
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) January 19, 2019
Regarding whether Hazard playing as a false nine presented a particular problem for him, Sarri was not so sure.
“You know very well that Eden is at the moment a wonderful player but an individual player. He is a very instinctive player,” he reiterated.
“He likes very much to go to the ball. He wants the ball at his feet. For him it is very difficult to play as a striker but it is very difficult to play also as a winger.
“I think we need to organise the other 10 players in the defensive phase because he needs to play everywhere on the pitch.”
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