Eden Hazard has expressed his happiness at playing in a central attacking role for Chelsea under Maurizio Sarri.

Hazard has had an amazing first half of the Premier League campaign so far. He has improved his goalscoring record partly due to playing through the middle for the west Londoners. Having already netted 10 goals in 18 league appearances, he is on course to beat his previous season record of 16, which he set in 2016-2017.

While the Belgian has played in a false nine role before under Antonio Conte, he did not enjoy operating in such positions. Under Sarri, the 27-year-old has been deployed in both the left wing and the false nine positions. Operating in the latter role has seen Hazard produce some of his best performances of the season so far.

Many have approved of Sarri’s use of Hazard in such a central position, including a former Chelsea favourite, while the Belgian himself has admitted he is happy to play in a false nine position under Sarri, whom he says has spoken to him before the campaign started stating he is primed for a central attacking role by the ex Napoli boss.

“Sarri told me before the season started that playing as a number nine could be an option,” said the Belgium international forward. “It is good not just to be a target man, but also as a false nine where I can move, I can drop, I can go deep, I can go on the wing. I like to change a lot, but we also have two great strikers. We will see. It depends on who is on the pitch.”

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Sarri’s tactics crucial to Hazard’s happiness at false nine role

Under Conte, the 27-year-old often looked frustrated while playing in the same role. Too often, he dropped into deeper positions which left their shape unbalanced. Under Sarri’s tactics, however, Hazard has found more joy in the centre.

“We do a lot of tactical work, and you can see on the pitch we have improved a lot from last year,” added Hazard. “We have adapted to the new system. We have brought new players. Jorginho is helping a lot, Kovacic, the new goalkeeper Kepa is already very good. Everything is going well. The manager is talking a lot to us which is good.”