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Chelsea boss must stand firm after Hazard 'exit' bombshell

Mourinho dismisses PSG rumours, but can he keep his star performer?

If there is one thing that Chelsea fans do not want to hear, it is that Eden Hazard will leave Stamford Bridge, yet that is the uncomfortable report which greeted them today.

According to reports in France, Hazard has already told his Chelsea team-mates that he will quit the Premier League side at the end of the season and move to Ligue 1 outfit PSG.

“I will certainly be joining Paris next summer,” he is quoted as saying in Parisian newspaper Le Parisien. The report goes on: “It is too early to say that an agreement has been reached between Nasser al-Khelaifi (PSG president) and Roman Abramovich. But the confidence with which the young Belgian said this indicates that is more than just a hypothetical move.”

It would rank as a huge shock if Hazard did indeed leave Stamford Bridge, but certainly it is not impossible. After all, the 23-year-old spent five successful years at Lille, before he joined Chelsea for £32 million. The Lille president, Michel Seydoux, this week urged Hazard to return to France, believing that his arrival would help to boost the standard of French football.

The prospect of Hazard leaving is a serious concern for the Blues, and the Belgian’s outstanding form this season has made him a player who Mourinho simply cannot afford to lose. Mourinho reacted strongly, saying that there is "no chance" of Hazard leaving - but does Hazard feel the same?

Hazard has improved his game significantly this season after an inconsistent first year with the Blues, and looks well on the way to becoming one of the finest forward players in Europe.

His rise to prominence was underlined by a stunning strike against Liverpool on December 29, his 10th goal of the season already.

Alongside fellow midfielder Oscar, he is emerging as the kind of player around which a title-challenging side can be built. Put simply, Mourinho must fight tooth and nail to keep him.

But does Hazard want to leave Chelsea? For now, he seems settled. Importantly, the relationship between player and manager seems to be healthy. Mourinho briefly dropped Hazard earlier in the season, but reinstated him and is reportedly pleased with his progress.

Hazard recently called Mourinho: “A top coach with a great personality.” Chelsea must now hope that Mourinho is able to convince his star player that his future lies in west London.

image: © Ben Sutherland

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