Eden Hazard has suggested Chelsea boss Antonio Conte is playing him out of position at Stamford Bridge, telling reporters on Thursday that he prefers to act in the No. 10 role.
Hazard struggled mightily last season during the Blues’ disastrous defence of their Premier League title, failing to score a league goal until the final rounds of the competition. And though he’s started brighter this season, his influence in Conte’s side hasn’t been as strong or as decisive as many would have hoped.
The 25-year-old midfielder says enjoys more freedom for Belgium, and would like a similar brief to roam for his club.
“I like to play as a No. 10,” Hazard said. “I think I have more freedom offensively. For Belgium, we have full-backs who run hard and create a lot of space, which is good and I like to play there.
“I don’t know if I will play there at Chelsea. You need to ask the manager! I play on the left hand side and I try to do the best I can.”
Hazard has had to watch as Oscar, Cesc Fabregas and Willian have been tested in the role this season.
“It’s true I like to play as a 10. Sometimes at Chelsea we don’t play with system with a No. 10, too,” Hazard said. “I don’t think Chelsea wants to change just for me [to play] as a 10. I did well in the past as a left winger and for now, I am trying to get back to that best again.”
The former Lille star dispelled any notions about the side being unfit at the start of the season, which was an issue with last season’s team under Jose Mourinho.
“We are fit because we ran a lot in preseason! You need to do this to stay at the top. We want to improve with this manager,” Hazard stated about preseason under Conte.
“He is good. We started well with three wins, then we suffered two defeats after the international break and then we won again. He has tried to bring confidence to the players.”
Chelsea will take on defending Prem champs Leicester at the weekend. And despite the Foxes’ slower start to the league campaign, Hazard knows they will prove a formidable foe on Saturday.
“They played well last season,” Hazard said. “But this season is completely different. We know as we were champions and the season after is very difficult. But they still have lot of good players.”