Guus Hiddink eager to see how Eden Hazard responds to disappointing season
Published 15/04/2016 | 22:41
Chelsea interim boss Guus Hiddink will be intrigued to see Eden Hazard's reaction to a "dark" season after imploring the Belgian to "play like a kid".
Hazard won a host of individual awards last season as Chelsea lifted the Premier League title and Capital One Cup, but he and the Blues have had a chastening campaign.
Reports have suggested Hazard, who is in line to play for Belgium at this summer's European Championship, is agitating for a move, with Real Madrid and Paris St Germain interested.
But it is difficult to see Chelsea approving a transfer for a player whose value has plummeted and has four years remaining on his current contract.
Hiddink says it is unfair to label Hazard disinterested due to his on-field performances, which have contrasted starkly with last season, and will be interested to watch the 25-year-old's development.
"The next period will be very interesting for him," Hiddink said.
"Not now, just this season, but also the Euros and the upcoming season.
"I hope he uses his quality in a way that he doesn't think too much ahead or back.
"Last year everything was beautiful and this year everything is, for him, dark. The contrast is huge.
"He was the number one and now he's at the end of a long row of players. That's difficult. What do you do?
"We must not dramatise too much. Try to play like a kid. Try to think in the moment."
Hazard, who signed for Chelsea four years ago this summer, will miss Saturday's Premier League clash with Manchester City due to a hip/groin problem.
He has been absent for the last three matches, but returned to training this week and should feature against Bournemouth next weekend.
"The last days I saw him training very spontaneously," Hiddink said.
"You have to try to avoid a lot of thinking for yourself and look for causes that might not be there, try to get a little bit clean."
Antonio Conte will likely be eager to get the best out of Hazard next term.
But should Hazard be angling for a move elsewhere, Hiddink believes the Belgian must show his best for Chelsea.
"If he is planning in his career, then he must show it where he is playing now and in the near future," the Dutchman added.