The pardon of Eden

Eden Hazard has sought permission from Maurizio Sarri to report late for Chelsea duty.

The playmaker, who starred at the World Cup as Belgium finished third, will not be involved in Sunday’s Community Shield with Manchester City.

Sarri spoke with Hazard on Thursday, but there was no discussion on the future of the forward, whose deal expires in 2020.

Hazard has long been deliberating over a new contract offer amid rumoured interest from Real Madrid.

“We didn’t talk about this,” Sarri said.

“We talked only about ‘can I arrive on Monday instead of Sunday?’

“In this moment there is no problem for Hazard.”

Sarri did not say if permission had been granted, but it is fair to suggest he wants to keep his leading talents happy.

Maurizio Sarri managed Napoli against Manchester City last season
Maurizio Sarri managed Napoli against Manchester City last season (Martin Rickett/PA Images)

Sarri met Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City last season in the Champions League group stages.

Guardiola described his team’s performance as “perfect” when City won 2-1 in Manchester. For Sarri, it was different.

“The first 20 minutes was a nightmare, it was horrible,” he said.

Sarri felt it was “the best moment of City”.

And the Italian downplayed Hazard’s concerns after Chelsea’s most recent match with Guardiola’s men, when the Belgian said he could have played for three hours and not touched the ball as a ‘false nine’.

Eden Hazard did not enjoy playing against Manchester City earlier this year under Antonio Conte
Eden Hazard did not enjoy playing against Manchester City earlier this year under Antonio Conte (Nick Potts/PA Images)

Sarri said: “I think it’s very difficult for everybody to play against City.”

Conte prepared his side to “suffer” against City, suggesting an inferiority complex of sorts.

Sarri does not want to sit deep and he wants his players to believe.

He added: “We need to defend, I think. I’d like to defend, if it’s possible – sometimes it’s not possible – in the (opposition) half.

“I’d like for my players (to) have the personality and able to think in their mind that we are at the same level.

“Maybe at the moment it’s not true, but they have to start to think that they can play against everybody in every stadium, against every team.”

Sarri says the answers to all Chelsea’s issues cannot just be bought.

“The table of the last Premier League told me City 100 points, Chelsea 70 points,” he said.

“At the moment there is a difference. We have to try to reduce the 30 points and I know only one way: to work.

“My job is this, to improve my players. I will try to do it.

“I don’t think that every problem can be resolved by the market.”

One major signing is Jorginho, the Italy midfielder who is set to be integral to Sarri’s Blues.

Jorginho followed from Napoli, despite interest from City.

Sarri added: “We need Jorginho more than City, so it’s right that Jorginho is here.

“Pep has great midfielders, central midfielders. Fernandinho is a wonderful player.

“Jorginho is one of the steps to try to reduce the gap. He’s only the first. But the rest is to work and ignore the market.”

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Football Paradise Staff Reporter

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