Eden Hazard can replicate Mo Salah success with Maurizio Sarri’s forward thinking

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Chelsea: Eden Hazard is really coming into his own under Maurizio Sarri. This was always part of the plan, writes Dan Levene.
With five goals in five, and Chelsea top of the league, this already looks like being a big season for the Belgian.
And the new boss, the 27-year-old’s sixth in a little over six years with Chelsea, didn’t stint in his praise following a masterful hat-trick against Cardiff at the weekend.
“I think he can score 30 or 35 goals,” said Sarri.
” I have spoken to him in the last two days, yesterday I told him for me he can score 40 goals. But spend less energy far from the goal and play in the last 25 metres.”
If a few eyebrows were raised at that projected goal target, then some context might help.
Sarri already knows how to pull the strings for his most valuable asset.
It’s no secret, and whether he has worked out the pretty straightforward puzzle himself, or been shown the diagrams in some sort of Haynes Guide – Eden loves to be loved, and boosting his confidence will do absolutely no harm at all.
Sarri knows he has tough choices up front.
And his soft-soaping of Hazard in public is designed to take away one of those problems: he now has a leading scorer who looks like he’s gunning for the Golden Boot.
The same cannot be said of Alvaro Morata, whose low confidence appears trapped in a painful-to-watch cycle.
Sarri says he will rotate between the Spaniard and Olivier Giroud: who supplied two of Hazard’s goals against Cardiff and, but for his free-scoring team-mate’s brilliance, might have gone home with the Man Of The Match bottle.
If Chelsea’s appointment of the trophyless Sarri caused some confusion, there is one thing that was always clear: they know Hazard is their number one asset; and the coach has been brought in with a view to making the most of that.
It was no secret things had become stale and uncomfortable towards the end of Antonio Conte’s reign.
Hazard was not the only one showing signs of disenchantment with the regime. But, as other managers have shown, he matters more than most: for when he is enjoying his football, Chelsea are invariably the beneficiaries.
It is utterly implausible that Chelsea would have appointed Sarri without, at the very least, a nod of approval from their key player.
And the Italian has carefully reintroduced the player to first-team action, following a physically and mentally challenging World Cup summer.
Sarri, in training and now publicly, wants to remind Hazard that he is a forward.
Others, notably Jose Mourinho, had concentrated on improving his all-round game. And two league titles in which he was a key component show this has not been without merit.
But, with the lure of La Liga’s more open defences, there is a feeling that now is a time for Hazard to shine – if he is to continue to see the Premier League as the place where he can cement his playing legacy.
Jorginho’s deep-lying playmaker role is key to that: there was a reason why he and Sarri came as a sealed unit.
And, since his full reintroduction to the side, the results have been outstanding.
There’s a long way to go, of course.
Chelsea’s winning start has been helped by the benevolence of the fixture computer.
There will be tougher days ahead than against Cardiff: and the fast-approaching Premier League visit of Liverpool will provide a more real test of how far Sarri and his side have progressed.
Hazard will have watched Mohamed Salah’s progress with interest, and not a little jealousy last year.
Now is his chance to show he is capable of the same and, who knows, more than his former Blues team-mate.

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