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Monday, 22 July 2019

Chelsea fans savour Hazard magic, but for how much longer?

Reuters , Tuesday 9 Apr 2019
Chelsea
Chelsea's Belgian midfielder Eden Hazard (C) celebrates with teammates after scoring their second goal during the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and West Ham United at Stamford Bridge in London on April 8, 2019. - Hazard scored both goals as Chelsea won the game 2-0. AFP
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With Real Madrid reportedly lining up a huge offer to tempt Eden Hazard to the Bernabeu next season, Chelsea's fans may wonder how many more times they will be able to savour watching the Belgian maestro at his dazzling best.

An inspired Hazard, whose contract expires next season, scored both goals in the 2-0 victory over West Ham United on Monday, the first a dazzling solo effort that brought back memories of Diego Maradona in his pomp.

His second, in the 90th minute, capped a mesmerising display that took Chelsea to a third consecutive league win.

Manager Maurizio Sarri said having Hazard in such unstoppable form made winning "easy" but appeared almost resigned to losing him.

West Ham's fans might even have enjoyed Hazard's display too, but they took pleasure in teasing the home faithful that the 28-year-old, who joined the club in 2012, might be performing his tricks in front of a new audience next season.

Hazard offered a modicum of comfort afterwards but the fear remains, for Chelsea fans and anyone who enjoys watching a master craftsman at work, that his days in London might be numbered.

"They are wrong," Hazard, who has scored 19 goals in all competitions for Chelsea this season to equal his best haul, said.

"For now I am just focusing on Chelsea until the end of the season. We are in good momentum. We have won three in a row. For the mentality, it is good to keep going. Top four and the Europa League is our target so we need to do well in both."

Victory lifted Chelsea into third place in the Premier League -- above London rivals Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur who both have played a game less.

Sarri said he "can do nothing" to keep Hazard at the club if he wants "another experience".

"We are trying to become one of the best teams in Europe but I have to respect his decision," the Italian said.

"Hazard played a wonderful match. He did well against Brighton too. We are very lucky because it is very easy to win the match when he is able to make that kind of difference."

Asked about the fee of 100 million pounds ($130 million) Real Madrid are reported to be willing to pay, he added: "It is too cheap in this market! We have seen in the last few windows every price I think. So it is very hard to get another player like him."

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