Sarri’s damning verdict on star
HAZARD NEEDS TO HAVE MORE TRAINING
Maurizio Sarri admitted Eden Hazard needs more time to get back to his very best despite an impressive 15-minute cameo as a substitute in Chelsea’s 3-0 win at Huddersfield.
Sarri’s side overcame an awkward start at the John Smith’s Stadium on Saturday to give their new boss a victory on his Premier League debut.
N’Golo Kante opened the scoring with a deflected volley, 27 days after starting for France in their World Cup final victory over Croatia, before Jorginho’s penalty and a late third goal from Pedro completed a comfortable victory.
The appearance of Hazard came amid continuing uncertainty over the Belgian star’s future.
Hazard has been linked with a move to European champions Real Madrid, who signed Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois during the week – a transfer that added to the sense of instability at Stamford Bridge following Sarri’s arrival to replace the sacked Antonio Conte last month.
The future of Hazard, who only returned to training with his club a week ago after helping Belgium finish third at the World Cup, may not be sorted out until August 31, when the transfer window closes in Spain.
His quality was there for all to see during his brief appearance, with a fine run from midfield taking out several Huddersfield players before he sent Pedro away to score Chelsea’s third goal.
Asked if he was surprised by the effectiveness of Hazard’s contribution, Sarri said: “I think that Eden at this moment cannot play for 90 minutes. He has to improve, to have more training.
“I think the best thing is for him to play 15-20 minutes when the opponents probably are tired.”
While Sarri guarded against giving Hazard praise, Huddersfield head coach David Wagner was rather more effusive.
“He is good, isn’t he?” laughed Wagner. “But everybody fights with their weapons.”
Sarri has had little time to put his plans into action, having only been in the job for four weeks, and his 4-3-3 set-up did not always look assured against Huddersfield.
Steve Mounie headed Aaron Mooy’s corner against the post in the first half with the score at 1-0.
“We have never played against the 3-5-1-1 system that Huddersfield used so we were not ready,” Sarri said. – AFP
KILLER BLOW. Chelsea’s Pedro celebrates after scoring in their English Premier League opener against Huddersfield at the John Smith’s Stadium on Saturday.