Sarri issues ultimatum on Hazard future
Maurizio Sarri has broken ranks for the first time in his Chelsea reign by issuing an ultimatum to the Stamford Bridge board over Eden Hazard's future and insisting that Cesc Fabregas cannot be sold in January unless a like-for-like replacement is signed.
Hazard revealed this week that he is willing to wait until the end of the season before deciding whether to sign a new contract worth more than £300,000 (€333,000) a week. The Belgian, who has 18 months left on his current deal, is waiting to find out whether Real Madrid will make a move to sign him at the end of the season.
Asked what he thought Hazard would do, Sarri said: "I don't know, but I think that it's time to decide."
Chelsea have been trying to convince Hazard to sign a new contract for the past 18 months, but Sarri claimed the club should take matters into their own hands, saying: "The club can decide for him."
Asked whether he believed Hazard should be sold if he will not sign a new contract, Sarri said: "I don't know, but I think it's right that the club knows the future and has the chance to programme the future."
When it was put to Sarri that he could talk to Hazard about his future, he said: "No, because I don't have the power to do this. I am the coach, I am not the president. I want to speak to him only about the position on the pitch."
Hazard has put pressure on Chelsea to resolve their striker crisis in January by admitting he prefers to play on the left rather than in the middle, where he has started the past four Premier League games.
Gonzalo Higuain is interested in cutting short his loan at AC Milan to join Chelsea next month. But ahead of tomorrow's trip to Crystal Palace, Sarri suggested he would not be pressured into moving Hazard back to his favoured position.
"I cannot see the problem of Hazard in this role. He played four matches, scored three goals and made two assists."
Fabregas wants to leave Chelsea in January, having turned down a one-year extension to his contract that expires in six months, and Monaco and AC Milan are interested in the midfielder.
However, Sarri insisted: "In this position we have only two players - Jorginho and Fabregas - so it would be a very big problem to be without Cesc. I want him to stay.
"If Cesc will go, then I think we need to buy another player and it's not easy because it's difficult to find a player with these characteristics." (© Daily Telegraph, London)
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