Maurizio Sarri on Eden Hazard's Future: 'I Don't Know If He's Decided or Not'

Christopher Simpson@@CJSimpsonBRFeatured ColumnistMarch 29, 2019

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - MARCH 17:  Eden Hazard of Chelsea during the Premier League match between Everton FC and Chelsea FC at Goodison Park on March 17, 2019 in Liverpool, United Kingdom. (Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images)
Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri does not know whether Eden Hazard will remain at the club this summer amid reported interest from Real Madrid.

The Italian was quizzed about the winger in Friday's press conference ahead of Sunday's trip to Cardiff City, per Goal's Nizaar Kinsella:

Nizaar Kinsella @NizaarKinsella

Sarri on Hazard being distracted by Real Madrid talk: "The market is closed now, so it is not important. I want him to respect his season and I don't know if he has decided or not." #CFC #RMCF

According to L'Equipe (h/t Football Whispers' Adam Newson on Sky Sports), Real Madrid are prepared to spend more than £400 million this summer to bring in their top targets, including Hazard, Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba and Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappe.

Links between Hazard and Los Blancos have intensified since Zinedine Zidane returned to the club earlier in March.

The Chelsea star has made no secret of his admiration for the Frenchman in the past, and that has continued.

Per AS' Mario Cortagena, when asked about Zidane while on international duty, Hazard said: "I have so much respect for Zidane. He's my idol. It's thanks to him I started playing."

It will come as a worry to Chelsea fans because the Belgium international is their biggest difference-maker in the final third:

Squawka Football @Squawka

Eden Hazard has now been directly involved in 24 Premier League goals this season; no player has been involved in more this term: ⚽️ 13 goals 🅰️ 11 assists Chelsea's saviour again. 😇 https://t.co/Hfhg0FPFyx

Blues author Mark Worrall is confident the 28-year-old will continue to produce the goods whatever his summer intentions:

Mark Worrall @gate17marco

If / when Hazard does leave Chelsea for Real it's not going to be a surprise. Scoring that genius late goal against Wolves shows he hasn't given up on the Blues & I'm sure he'll keep bringing his best game to the end. I respect that. He'll be missed, but that's football. #cfc https://t.co/wXJOqIzj0Z

Chelsea enter the final eight league matches of the season sixth in the Premier League, three points behind fourth-place Arsenal.

If the Blues are to overhaul their rivals to finish in a UEFA Champions League place, they will need to be at their best in their remaining games, and that requires Hazard firing on all cylinders.

Chelsea also remain in the UEFA Europa League, which will provide an alternate route to Europe's leading club competition if the Blues can win the tournament.

Hazard has been an unused substitute for their past three Europa League matches. The Blues face Slavia Prague in the quarter-finals, and they should be capable of beating them over two legs without him.

Assuming they reach the semi-finals, though, they will want to use him to maximise their chances of finishing the season with a trophy and securing Champions League football for the next campaign.