Thursday, August 22, 2019

Hazard will not be false nine for Belgium, says Martinez

SoccerNews in English Premier League 19 Mar 2018


Eden Hazard will not play for Belgium as a false nine despite being used in such a role for Chelsea this season, Roberto Martinez has said.

The 27-year-old has often been used as the focal point of the Blues’ attack in 2017-18, with Alvaro Morata struggling for form, Olivier Giroud yet to settle fully and Michy Batshuayi having been loaned to Borussia Dortmund.

It is not a role Hazard appears to enjoy, though, with the former Lille man saying after Chelsea’s 1-0 loss to Manchester City this month: “We could have played on for three hours, and I [still] wouldn’t touch a ball.”

And Belgium boss Martinez appears unwilling to follow Antonio Conte’s tactical plans, insisting he would not play Hazard in the position at the expense of Manchester United’s Romelu Lukaku or other more suitable players.

“Lukaku’s form is very good. He was impressive against Liverpool. He is showing maturity. It’s good to see him perform at such a high level,” he said.

“Eden is not a false nine, for me. At Chelsea, that can work with guys like Pedro around him, but with us we still have Romelu, Michy, even Dries [Mertens] can play there.

“I’m not going to put Hazard there.”

Belgium meet Saudi Arabia this month as part of their World Cup preparations, with Club Brugge’s uncapped Anthony Limbombe among those in the latest squad.

There was no place for Crystal Palace’s Christian Benteke, but Martinez has not ruled out the striker forcing his way back into his plans before the tournament in Russia.

“The 23 for Russia won’t necessarily come only from the core that have now been called up,” he said. “There are also boys like Nacer Chadli and Christian Kabesele, who have always been part of this squad.

“I don’t close the door to anyone, because there could still be injuries. But if everyone stays fit, the World Cup squad will largely come from this group.

“Benteke is still part of our group, I just didn’t want to call up too many forwards.”


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