Former Chelsea centreback Mario Melchiot believes N’Golo Kante and Eden Hazard may decide to head out of Stamford Bridge due to the methods of head coach Maurizio Sarri.

2019 has proven to be a tough year for Sarri at west London so far. The Blues’ latest setback, a 2-0 fifth round FA Cup defeat against Manchester United, saw the Chelsea fans turning on the ex-Napoli manager as they sang chants saying “f*ck Sarri-ball” before joining the Red Devils supporters in singing “you’re getting sacked in the morning!”

Having already suffered humiliating losses against Manchester City and Bournemouth, Sarri is under mounting pressure to turn the tide for the Blues as criticism of his preferred playing style has only loudened. A string of crunch fixtures about to be taken on by the west Londoners in the next seven days, including a League Cup final against Manchester City on Sunday, would serve as an opportunity for the beleagured Sarri to stake his claim of the Chelsea managerial hotseat in the long-term yet ex-Blues defender Melchiot thinks the 60-year-old’s methods, especially in playing players “out of position”, may prove to be a sticking point for the likes of Kante and Hazard.

“If you play players out of their position, you’re taking away their happiness and when their happiness goes, players are going to start looking at somewhere else,” said the former Chelsea defender.

“[N’Golo] Kante is happy doing the job he’s good at, but now [Maurizio] Sarri is making him go forward. His strength is breaking up play and winning the ball back, and that allows other Chelsea players to take more risks because they have that security of Kante being behind them. That security is gone now and if they lose the ball, their opponents come straight at them.

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“It’s the same with [Eden] Hazard. If you want to keep hold of your star players, you have to make them feel good about what they are doing. Sarri has started to complain that he dribbles too much with the ball but what do you want? That’s his ability and there is no player who wants to play against him when he does that. If you do not want him to dribble, if you want him to play one-touch instead, he should not be in your team.”