Zola admits industry is not Hazard’s best quality
Chelsea’s assistant manager Gianfranco Zola has sympathised with Eden Hazard for having to play in an unfamiliar position but he has also admitted that the Belgian can do a lot more work off the ball to help out the team.
Hazard started off the season brilliantly and was amongst the top scorers before fading away in a false-nine role.
The Belgian was back on song as Chelsea beat Tottenham in the second leg of the Carabao Cup to set up a clash with Man City in the finals, scoring the Blues’ second goal in a 2-1 victory.
And Zola, who was himself an attacker, perfectly understands Hazard’s situation.
“I was very much like Eden,” Zola told reporters. “I was a very positive player, I liked to move around the pitch, find the spots on the pitch where I could receive the ball, turn and make the damage to the opposition.
“I was very, very similar and I do understand that. I believe we try to give him this but also to be an organised team defensively and offensively. Especially offensively. That’s why we ask Eden sometimes to put himself about in working hard.
“I know that’s not his best quality. We understand that sometimes he needs to be fresh when he receives the ball. There is no doubt that we are on the same page. We want to find a common ground where he can get the best out of himself and the team can benefit from him.
“Not only when he is scoring goals but when we have moments in the game where we need everybody to defend and everybody to press. That’s exactly what we are trying to do. Eden, I think, I have to be fair that he has been doing it.
“He has been trying to do it. We are very demanding because we want to do it all the time. I am sure that we will find a compromise. I am not in a position to criticise a player like Eden. We believe, Maurizio said one thing, that the potential of Hazard is greater than the performances.
“So he is not criticising what Eden is doing but he believes he can do much more for himself and the team. That’s all he is saying. This is the situation he wants Hazard to understand. Again, when we see his performances we look forward to seeing more and more.”