Belgian wizard Eden Hazard has confirmed his intention to remain at Stamford Bridge next season despite strong interest from Paris Saint-Germain.
The West London club have handed Hazard the No. 10 shirt for next term, per the club's official website. The player then spoke of his desire to impress Chelsea fans after receiving the accolade:
I am very pleased to be able to wear the No. 10 for Chelsea. It is my favourite number and is one I am used to wearing for the national team, as well as the one worn by some of my heroes from when I was a kid, like Zinedine Zidane. I hope it brings me a lot of luck in the future and I look forward to the fans seeing me in it next season.
Hazard's comments will come as welcome relief to Blues fans, with PSG thought to be preparing a £61 million bid for the superstar footballer, as reported by Simon Jones of the Mail Online. The player is being offered a five-year deal worth £230,000 per week to move to Paris.
It is a story that won't go away. Hazard's father, Thierry, was forced to address the issue on Wednesday, insisting to Sudpresse, via Kristof Terreur of Sky Sports that the Chelsea player won't entertain transfer talk ahead of the World Cup:
I read transfer news on Eden every day, but at this moment nothing has happened. Eden had asked me one thing, that he can focus on the World Cup. There will be no transfer news during the World Cup.
Hazard was a sensation for Jose Mourinho's side last season and showed exactly why Chelsea battled hard for his signature two years ago.
The 23-year-old attacking midfielder scored 16 times and provided seven assists in 44 Premier League and European competition matches, per WhoScored.com.
Speculation of a move to PSG was fuelled recently when Hazard tweeted Zlatan Ibrahimovic about a lesson in speaking French. Hazard tweeted:
The tweet caused a tidal wave of concern on social media with many presuming that the Belgium international would follow former Chelsea team-mate David Luiz to the French club.
However, the true meaning of Hazard's tweet was to poke fun at Ibrahimovic, whose attempt to speak French had earlier amused his PSG team-mates:
PSG manager Laurent Blanc recently admitted his interest in Hazard, per Matthew Morlidge of the Mail Online, referring to Hazard as their "Plan A" signing for the summer.
Morlidge quotes Blanc saying, when asked about Hazard:
A player who can eliminate three, four players at any time a game is something else. We do not know what to expect with these players. They destabilise the opponent. Of course. There is also a Plan C. We will first focus on the areas of game where you want to recruit and propose three solutions. We know we want Plan A.
Despite interest in Cesc Fabregas, per Jack Wilson of the Daily Star, it is essential that Chelsea hold on to Hazard. Mourinho has shown great faith in the player by disposing of the services of Juan Mata, and to lose him at this point would only serve to hamper the Blues' future.
Hazard is the one individual who can fire Chelsea to trophy success next season. And even with a replacement as good as Fabregas, Mourinho would have to perform major surgery on his team if he loses the diminutive Belgian.