St Petersburg: Eden Hazard has cast serious doubts over his future at Chelsea after suggesting that, in the wake of an impressive World Cup campaign, the time may have come for him to move on after six successful years at Stamford Bridge.
The Belgium forward, who scored his team’s second goal to secure third place at England’s expense in St Petersburg and is contracted until 2020, has long been courted by Real Madrid and has made no secret of his desire to play at the Bernebeu at some stage of his career.
Chelsea had hoped to secure him to new terms worth around 300,000-pounds-a-week, but the 27-year-old opted against renegotiating last season and indicated ahead of the FA Cup final that his decision to stay would be heavily influenced by the club’s moves in the market.
Yet, despite Maurizio Sarri having replaced Antonio Conte at the helm and the signing of Jorginho from Napoli for around pounds 50 million, the Belgian addressed his future in the immediate aftermath of his side’s victory over England. “Honestly, I will go on holiday and ask myself the right questions,” said Hazard, who has claimed two Premier League titles, a Europa League, a League Cup and an FA Cup over his time at the club. “After six wonderful years at Chelsea it might be time to discover something different. I can decide if I want to stay or go, but Chelsea will make the final decision if they want to let me go.
“For my career, certainly after this World Cup, I’m at a moment where I might change. We all know that I’ve always felt well at Chelsea, so..... I’ve been linked to all the big clubs. Next week it will be Bayern. No I’m joking. You all know my preferred destination.”
Chelsea have never previously countenanced the possibility of a sale, and it would take a considerable bid to persuade them to alter that stance. They had hoped to use what remains of the summer transfer window to secure significant reinforcements to their squad, with Jorginho already linked up with his former manager at Napoli.
“I am absolutely ecstatic to be here at Chelsea,” said the Italy international. “It is not easy to become part of such a big team so I am very, very happy. I am excited to play in such an intense league for a team that gives everything to play and win.”
There is interest in Daniele Lugani at Juventus, and the CSKA Moscow midfielder Aleksandr Golovin, with AS Roma’s Brazil goalkeeper Alisson could be targeted if Thibaut Courtois, into the final 12 months of his contract, is allowed to leave. Sarri was formally announced as Chelsea’s new head coach on Saturday morning on a three-year contract.
“I look forward to starting work and meeting the players on Monday ahead of travelling to Australia, where I will be able to get to know the squad and begin our match action,” he said. “I hope we can provide some entertaining football for our fans, and that we will be competing for trophies at the end of the season, which is what this club deserves.”