LONDON – Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri says the time has come for star playmaker Eden Hazard to make up his mind as to whether he will sign a new contract.
The 27-year-old Belgian - who has been at Chelsea since 2012 - is a target for Spain's European champions Real Madrid but said on Thursday he wanted to put off any decision on his future till the end of the season.
Chelsea, though, have offered Hazard - who reached a landmark century of goals for the club with a brace in the 2-1 win over Watford on Wednesday - a new contract reported to be worth well over £300,000 ($380,000) a week.
Sarri, though, said at his press conference on Friday he wants everything cleared up as soon as possible.
"I don't know but I think that it's time to decide," said Sarri when asked if he thought Hazard would stay with the club. "I think that we have to solve the problem. If he wants to program the future, we have to solve this problem."
Sarri, whose side are fourth in the table 11 points off leaders Liverpool ahead of this weekend's games, said he was powerless to intervene given the power structure inside the club.
"I am not the president, I am not in charge of the market, I am the coach," said the 59-year-old Italian. "I want to speak to him only about the position on the pitch."
Sarri, who will be without Spanish forward Pedro for the away match at Crystal Palace due to a hamstring injury, is also keen to keep Hazard playing as a 'false nine' in the absence of the injured Alvaro Morata.
Hazard has said he prefers to play on the wing but Sarri said the impact the Belgian has made since he switched him supports his decision.
"I cannot see the problem of Hazard in this role," said Sarri. "He played four matches as false number nine, and he scored three goals and two assists. So I am not able to see the problem.
"I am really very happy with him in this position, because he's very able to score, first of all, but he's very able to open spaces for the team-mates, to come and play with the team-mates.
"So at the moment I am very happy with him in this position, but in the future he can also play as a winger of course."
Agence France-Presse (AFP)