Chelsea legend and former England manager Glenn Hoddle has warned Maurizio Sarri against playing Eden Hazard as a false-nine. Sarri often used the Belgian in the position during the first half of the season due to a lack of clinical finishing from Alvaro Morata and Olivier Giroud.
The Belgian has shown his class and thrived in the role for the most part. He is currently the Blues leading scorer this season and has scored 16 goals in the Premier League, while recording 12 assists. After the Blues managed to sign Gonzalo Higuain on a short-term loan deal in January, many believed that this could lead to Hazard finally returning to his natural position which is out wide.
However, the Argentine has failed to hit the ground running. He has so far only scored three Premier League goals since his arrival at Stamford Bridge with all of those strikes coming against Huddersfield Town and Fulham who have been the worst team’s in the League this season. Both have already been relegated.
Due to a lack of form from Higuain, Sarri opted to once again use Hazard as a false-nine for the Blues recent League defeat against Liverpool. However, he did deploy Hazard in his natural position out wide during the club’s recent 4-3 win in the Europa League against Slavia Prague.
Hazard may not have been able to score during the game but the Blues did manage to win through a brace from Pedro, a strike from Olivier Giroud and an own goal from Simon Deli.
Speaking ahead of the Europa League clash, Hoddle expressed that Sarri should not be deploying Hazard outside his natural position. As quoted by The Daily Mail, Hoddle said: “Absolutely (fans will be happy to see him wide), I just don’t get it, why would you put such a talented player with his back to play?”
“Where centre backs will come in and get him, midfielders who are holding are going to nip back get him.
“Why would you put him in those circumstances?
“Also at Anfield and certain games you need someone to hold the ball up for you.
“Consequently Liverpool had too much for them. I don’t get it… they need a target man.
“You can’t play balls to Hazard, one of the best players in the world, like that.
“No one is going to be able to produce anything with service like that.”