Juan Mata's perceived lack of work rate was supposedly one of the reasons he was left out of the Chelsea side prior to his departure, and it appears Mourinho has criticised Hazard for something similar.
Hazard has been in terrific form for Chelsea this season, so much so he was nominated for the PFA Players' Player of the Year gong, and collected the Young Player of the Year award.
But the Belgian was at fault for Atletico Madrid’s equaliser in the second leg of the Champions League semi-final, which ended up handing the initiative to the La Liga leaders – as Hazard lost the run of Juanfran whose ball allowed Adrian Lopez to score for the Spanish side.
Hazard made comments after the game suggesting that Chelsea were set up more to play counter-attacking football instead of taking the initiative in games. Jose Mourinho was asked about those comments in his press conference ahead of the Blues’ Premier League encounter with Norwich City on Sunday, where he said:
“When the comments come from a player like Eden it’s normal because he’s not the kind of player to sacrifice himself for the team.
“He’s not mentally ready to look at his left-back and leave his life for him.”
Hazard is a player renowned for his ability going forward, and has shown that by becoming the club’s top goalscorer in the league this season with 14 goals.
But some will inevitably try and compare the comments he made this time around to those he made about Juan Mata, when the Spaniard was surprisingly left on the bench for much of the first half of the season before he left the club for Manchester United in January.
People will recall when Mourinho was interviewed by Sky Sports’ Jamie Redknapp after Chelsea’s 2-0 win over Fulham. In amongst the comments when Mourinho made clear who the Chelsea manager was.
He was explaining why he opted to play Oscar in a more central role instead of Mata, saying: “Oscar as a number 10 is a player who gives us creativity, but at the same time, when we want to press up, Oscar is a runner and he is a player capable of pressing.”
A lot was made about Mata’s work rate then as being the reason that he wasn’t getting the nod from Mourinho, whilst it appears that the Chelsea boss was unimpressed with Hazard’s defensive play in the build-up to Atletico’s equaliser.
This is not to say that Hazard is definitely going to go the way of Mata and end up going through the exit door in the summer, despite reported interest from elsewhere. But a reminder of what Mourinho expects of his players. Though it does seem somewhat surprising that he would air them in public.