Jose Mourinho unconvinced by Eden Hazard in central playmaking role
Published 28/11/2015 | 13:31
Eden Hazard will never be Jose Mourinho's perfect number 10.
The Chelsea manager has warned Hazard, the Belgium playmaker whose performances have dipped from the award-winning displays of last term, that the central playmaking role is not for him ahead of Sunday's Barclays Premier League clash at Tottenham.
Hazard says he persuaded Mourinho to play him centrally in last week's win over Norwich, but the Portuguese believes the 24-year-old is more effective on the left wing, where he was deployed to devastating effect last term.
Asked if Hazard can emulate Deco and Wesley Sneijder as Mourinho's favourite playmakers, the Blues boss said: "As a number 10? I don't think so.
"I like a number 10 to score goals. I like a number 10 to get in the box. I like a number 10 to score Oscar goals against Maccabi.
"A number 10 for me is an eight-and-a-half when the team loses the ball and a nine-and-a-half when the team has the ball."
Hazard is yet to score in 20 appearances this season, but netted 19 times in all competitions last term.
Manager and player have different ideas of a number 10's role.
Mourinho refused to disclose the thoughts of Hazard, who idolised Zinedine Zidane growing up, but is not physically of the same stature, but described his own vision of a number 10.
"We have different concepts of number 10. Me and him," added Mourinho, who has criticised and praised Hazard since returning to Chelsea.
"For me a number 10 does a lot of things, with the ball and without the ball.
"So for me a number 10 is a very special player in my team, when I play with a number 10, which in Chelsea in the last period we are doing.
"In my first period here we played without a number 10. We played with two number eights. In a system of two midfield players and a number 10, I demand a lot from a number 10.
"Every position is important, but it's an important position."
Cesc Fabregas, Willian and Oscar have all played in the central playmaking role this term, but often Chelsea's attacking midfield three are fluid, interchanging positions within a game.
Willian has scored six times this season, all from direct free-kicks. The Brazilian's performances have been among the few bright points for the Blues.
"The difference between last season and this season is that he scores free-kicks," Mourinho said.
"He was phenomenal last year. He's phenomenal this year. The only difference is that he found a way to contact the stopped ball, where he becomes very dangerous."
Willian signed from Anzhi Makhachkala in August 2013 despite having already undergone a medical at Tottenham, but Mourinho refused to rub Spurs' noses in it.
"They lost a very good player in Willian, they got a very good player in (Christian) Eriksen. They move on. They did well," Mourinho said.