Maurizio Sarri continues to not break any new ground in terms of finding out the characteristics of his players, and that includes challenging Eden Hazard to become a better, more decisive player.
And not just when it comes to making a decision over his future.
“I know very well that he is discussing with the club, but I don’t know anything else at the moment. I think that he has not decided yet if he wants to stay here or if he wants a new experience in another club. I don’t know exactly the situation, but I think that Eden, at the moment, doesn’t know the final choice.”
-Maurizio Sarri; source: Goal
No, what concerns Sarri more is Eden’s tendency to go missing in certain games. As decisive as the 28-year-old can be, and often in big games, and as good as his statistics are this season, at times the on-pitch leadership and especially motivation (there’s that word again) is clearly lacking. Eden himself recognizes his own shortcomings as evidenced by interviews such as the one recently given to France Football, but he’s also obviously quite happy to maintain the status quo and play within himself at his current level of performance.
“He has to do more because the potential is higher than the performances, I think. He has to respect, first of all, himself. He has to do more.”
This especially becomes important when coaches organize the rest of the team around him. Sarri spoke recently about Hazard’s role as a center forward bringing balance to the team — echoing similar sentiments from Mourinho and Conte — and he doubled down on that idea when quizzed about Eden’s willingness to perform in that role.
“You know very well that Eden is at the moment a wonderful player but an individual player. He is a very instinctive player. He likes very much to go to the ball. He wants the ball at his feet. For him it is very difficult to play as a striker but it is very difficult to play also as a winger. I think we need to organise the other 10 players in the defensive phase because he needs to play everywhere on the pitch.”
Given those sacrifices and considerations, it’s only fair that coaches, including Sarri, expect the maximum from one of the best players in the world. Any additional qualities (such as leadership) are bonus after that.
“He is very important to us, of course, because he is a great player. He always can win the match in two minutes, sometimes in one minute. But at the moment he is not a leader. He’s a great player, one of the best in the world.”
-Maurizio Sarri; source: FourFourTwo
Sarri name-checked Cesar Azpilicueta and David Luiz as two big personalities and potential leaders. All Eden has to be concerned about is to be all that he can be on the pitch.