(Reuters) – Eden Hazard is enjoying life under new Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri but says reports that he is about to announce the signing of a new deal with the London club are wide of the mark.
Hazard’s existing contract would keep him at Stamford Bridge for another two years but his scintillating start to the season has done nothing to stop the persistent rumours linking him to Real Madrid.
“I haven’t signed a contract,” the Belgian said after scoring the winning goal in his team’s 2-1 League Cup victory over Liverpool in midweek with a stunning individual effort. “Not yet, not yet.”
The second round of a double-header against the league-leading Merseyside club provides Chelsea’s next fixture on Saturday, when Hazard could add to the five goals he has scored in six Premier League appearances so far this campaign.
Sarri replaced his compatriot Antonio Conte before the start of the season and Hazard said his attempts to change Chelsea’s counter-attacking style to a more possession-based model had been beneficial to his game.
“Sarri is a manager who likes to have the ball. That makes a big difference,” Hazard added.
“Besides that, he’s an Italian. Just like under Conte there’s a lot of tactics and we have to work hard in training.
“I don’t feel like saying that I didn’t have any freedom under my previous managers. Conte and (Jose) Mourinho also let me do what I wanted in the last third. That’s why I could excel under them too. Defensively I know what I have to do.”
Sarri’s desire for a new style has resulted in a change of formation and personnel out on the pitch, which Hazard believes has helped the forward line get amongst the goals.
New signing Jorginho has featured regularly in a central defensive midfield role, with N’Golo Kante pushed further forward as a result, while players such as centre back David Luiz have been given a chance to revive their careers.
Luiz, who made 10 league starts under Conte last season, has started all six of Chelsea’s league games under Sarri.
“We have different players, players we didn’t have last season, players who like to have the ball,” Hazard said.
“We have more possession than before. The attacking players benefit from that.”
(Reporting by Manas Mishra in Bengaluru, editing by Nick Mulvenney)