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Hazard demands improved squad and 100% less Conte before signing new Chelsea deal

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Eden Hazard of Eden Hazard FC speaks

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Eden Hazard, Chelsea’s three-time Player of the Year (but not current!), a record he shares with Frank Lampard, reiterated yesterday that he’s happy to stay at Chelsea but will have to think about his long(er)-term future as he would like the club to make some quality signings in the summer transfer window. Because, you know, he wants to win and the quality of the squad needs to improve for that to happen.

“I’m waiting for new players next season. I want good players because I want to win the Premier League next season.”

-Eden Hazard; source: BBC

If that notion sound familiar, it’s because it’s the same exact one that Antonio Conte has been pushing for over a year, ever since he guided Chelsea to a surprise title in his first season at the club. The squad needs quality signings to become winners once again — and this might be quality in terms of skill, quality in terms of mentality and leadership, quality in terms of near-future potential, or all of the above. Chances are however that only Hazard will be here to see what the Board, in all their earthly footballing wisdom, manage to do this summer.

Unless those constant Real Madrid rumors finally become reality?

“That’s why I’m taking my time. It’s something big, so I need to think about a lot of things. But one thing is for sure: I’m happy here.”

-Eden Hazard; source: Guardian

Hazard’s quotes come from FA Cup final media day, which was held on Tuesday (h/t: @sidcelery).

Under contract at Chelsea for two more years, which usually means decision-time for either a new extension or a max-value transfer, the now 27-year-old Hazard elaborated a bit on the decisions facing him this summer when it comes to his footballing future.

“This is possibly one of my last big contracts. I have to put everything together. There is a lot of speculation. We do not know what will happen to the trainer (Conte).

“And if I stay, I also want to be sure that players arrive who strengthen the core. We always want to play in a better team. It is easy to say that we performed poorly this season because the players were not good enough. (laughs) With Eden, it was not always good. But look, that’s the way Chelsea ... On verra bien. I do not think too much about it.

“I concentrate on this week, the final and then on the World Cup. Maybe I’ll play a top World Cup and then follow something. A World Cup is a huge media event that affects a large number of issues. Maybe, maybe not. (blowing) Of course I feel like discovering other things. But on the other hand, I am also very good here. Un peu les deux. A bit the two. Call it: l’embarras du choix. No matter what happens, I will be happy.”

-Eden Hazard; source: HLN via Google Translate

Must be nice to be in the position where your choices consist of an “embarrassment of riches”, where no matter what you choose (Chelsea, Real Madrid, new contract, no new contract), the world will be your oyster.

In a way, it’s nothing less than what Eden deserves, what he’s earned over the six years he’s spent at Chelsea. On the other hand, it’s a bit of a slap in the face, especially after a disappointing season, including the part of it in the spring, and say, last weekend, where he himself was not up to standard (as he admitted recently and alluded to above as well).

To his credit, he claims he will take the FA Cup final seriously. When Hazard plays seriously, few in the world are better.

“As I have said so many times: I do not think it will be my last game for Chelsea. It is the last match of the season, that’s it. In my mind I am still here. I focus on that final. It is the only trophy I have not yet won in England. Last year we lost the final. That hurt [even] after a top season, with the title.

“I hope to win the FA Cup this year. Especially after a disappointing campaign in the Premier League, that match is of paramount importance. One of the most important of the year. We can save our season, in quotation marks, now that we have not succeeded in qualifying for the Champions League. The latter could make me think about my future. Voilà. We will see what happens. On verra.”

-Eden Hazard; source: HLN via Google Translate

On verra. We’ll see.

Sometimes you do need to be a bit more decisive and take the shot, Eden. That’s how trophies are won.

“Trophies are important. Premier League, Europa League, Champions League. It’s more important for me as I’ve never won [the FA Cup]. I need two more trophies – the Champions League and FA Cup.”

“We are Chelsea and we need a trophy at the end of the season, and at the moment we are nothing. We are not qualified for the Champions League next season, so this season has been bad, so now we can save a little bit this season, with this trophy. We will give everything.”

-Eden Hazard; source: Telegraph

At the moment we are nothing. Imagine anyone else says those things about Chelsea.

Of course, Hazard’s words in this regard are the bitter truth. The season has not lived up to minimum expectations in the league and even an FA Cup trophy would put only a minor positive note on top of it all. That’s part of the reality of playing in the most competitive league in the world. And it’s part of the reality of playing for Chelsea. And it’s part of the reality of having these exact teammates, this exact coach, at his exact time.

The way Terreur writes in HLN, Hazard and the rest of the players are resigned to Conte’s departure at this point, but Eden himself isn’t exactly beat up about it. He wants a coach who will “not push him into a tactical straitjacket” and apparently thinks that’s something all of his Chelsea managers so far have done. But while he certainly has a point with Mourinho and Benitez, Di Matteo gave him (and Mata and Oscar) almost complete freedom (remember the MaZaCar?) and Conte basically made him a trequartista in both the 3-4-3 and the 3-5-2. All four mentioned do have a tendency to play more reactively, especially in big games, however, so perhaps what Hazard wants is more attacking freedom, less control, more initiative from the new coach ... and we certainly can’t have that without a better squad, so now we’ve come full circle.

Regardless, this bit does play into recent stories from Matt Law of the Telegraph (“strained relationship”) and others as well.

All in all, it’s quite a reality check from the club’s biggest star and the one we’re most likely to bend over backwards for (even if maybe that player should be Kanté instead?).

And at this point, who can really fault Hazard for wanting to wait and see whether the Chelsea decision-makers can finally get their act together and make a real statement of intent with whatever signings, re-signings, hirings and firings are made?

The transfer window opens tomorrow, the season ends Saturday, and it’s going to be a very ... interesting ... summer.

For now, it’s all eyes on the FA Cup final. Then, hold on to your hats. It might be a bumpy ride.

“Saturday is a massive game, I just want to win for me and the club as well.”

-Eden Hazard; source: Telegraph

So say we all.

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