Eden Hazard’s Chelsea future remains in the air with the Belgian’s contract at Stamford Bridge having just 18 months left to run.
Now Blues boss Maurizio Sarri has declared that Hazard is free to leave if he wants – but the Italian hopes he chooses to stay put.
The Belgium star continues to be linked with a move to Real Madrid, having declared in October that a switch to the Bernabeu was his dream.
Chelsea chiefs are keen to stop that from happening, however, and want to renew their star man’s new contract.
Hazard, 28, has a deal at Stamford Bridge until 2020 and risk losing him for nothing.
Negotiations over a new deal with the player’s representatives have been ongoing for over a year, but it is still unknown whether Hazard infact, wants to remain.
If no new deal is agreed before the summer, then Chelsea will need to decide whether to cash in.
And Sarri, speaking ahead of Wednesday’s Premier League clash at Bournemouth, said: “Eden is 28. If he wants to go, I think he has to go.
“Of course, I hope the opposite, I hope he wants to stay here.
“He has the potential to be the best player in Europe at the moment.”
Hazard has scored 10 goals and laid on 10 more for teammates in the Premier League this season, with Chelsea occasionally appearing over-reliant on their leading man.
He has often appeared in a ‘false nine’ role in attack, despite preferring to play from the left, where he now will hope to feature more regularly following the arrival of Gonzalo Higuain.
“Sometimes he’s happy with something less. It’s my job to improve him and put him in a position to do his best,” added Sarri.
“Sometimes I have to say something in the press-room on that. It’s normal. It’s my job. But I was really very happy with the last performance [against Tottenham].”