Hazard shuts out contract talks, eyes 'nice last trophy'

Chelsea's Belgian midfielder Eden Hazard practices during a training session at the Baku Olympic Stadium, on May 28, 2019.
Chelsea's Belgian midfielder Eden Hazard practices during a training session at the Baku Olympic Stadium, on May 28, 2019.PHOTO: AFP

LONDON • Chelsea fear it may be a parting gift, but should today's Europa League final be Eden Hazard's last game for the Premier League club, the Belgium forward is determined to go out on a high.

After seven "amazing" seasons at Stamford Bridge, he is expected to move to Real Madrid this summer after running down his contract into its final year.

While a deal has yet to be announced with his long-term suitors, Hazard has shown no interest in extending his contract beyond 2020 and has already told the club where his future lies.

However, Chelsea's position is complicated by a Fifa ban on signing players for the next two transfer windows.

Sell now and as things stand, pending an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, they will be unable to recruit a replacement.

Holding on to him for a further 12 months, though, runs the risk of a player who can leave for nothing next summer rather than for a reported £100 million ($174.5 million) fee.

Having always pledged to depart with a trophy, victory against Arsenal in Baku, Azerbaijan would provide the perfect send-off.

The 28-year-old, who also ruled out playing for another English club, said: "It is a European competition so for me, for the club, for the manager, for the fans, it is something important.

"When you play a final, it does not matter whether it is the Champions League, Europa League or League Cup - you just want to win.

"If it is my last game, I hope to bring (home) the trophy. My first trophy at Chelsea was the (2013) Europa League, so it would be a nice last trophy."

Blues manager Maurizio Sarri, who himself could be headed for pastures new, has also admitted the club "need to be ready if (Hazard) wants something different".

While Hazard, who has also won two Premier League titles, a League Cup and the FA Cup with Chelsea, suggested he would speak about his future only when an agreement has been struck, that could come soon after the Belgian said "after the final, we will see what happens".

He added: "At the moment, nothing has happened, so I can't say anything. It's in the hands of the clubs. But I can put it aside. I have done it during a full season right now and I have played reasonably well. So I stay in that mode, just thinking about football.

"If we go to Baku with a strong approach to the game, we can do something good there."

In his way of a final hurrah stand Arsenal, who like the Blues, are determined to end what has been a topsy-turvy season with silverware.

But unlike Chelsea, Unai Emery's men missed out on Champions League qualification via a top-four finish in the Premier League.

The Arsenal manager knows that with a victory, his players will fulfil "two objectives - to go to the Champions League and after, to play with the titles".

At his pre-match press conference yesterday, the Spaniard said: "I want to do something important here, for example to play for this title. We deserved to be here, we feel to do something here.

"Above all is to enjoy and play with all our good spirit.

"We're playing for our supporters whether they're here or not."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 29, 2019, with the headline 'Hazard shuts out contract talks, eyes 'nice last trophy''. Print Edition | Subscribe