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Chelsea's Eden Hazard backed to return to top form by Gianfranco Zola

Chelsea legend Gianfranco Zola says he can sympathise with Eden Hazard's dramatic slump in form and is backing the Belgian to turn around his fortunes.

Hazard inspired Chelsea to their first Premier League title in five years last season, registering 14 goals and nine assists to claim the PFA Player of the Year award, but has scored just once during the current campaign.

That was a penalty in the FA Cup rout of Milton Keynes Dons, with the forward's plight in front of goal just one major problem for the Blues as their title defence has crumbled.

Injuries have slowed Hazard's recovery under interim manager Guus Hiddink, who replaced the sacked Jose Mourinho in December, while he also faced criticism from many Chelsea fans for refusing to rule out a summer move to Paris Saint-Germain.

Eden Hazard has yet to score a goal from open play for Chelsea this season.

Hazard told Le Parisien in an interview published shortly before Tuesday's Champions League clash with the Ligue 1 leaders that it would be "difficult to say no to PSG."

"Sometimes there's simply no explanation," Zola told Belgian newspaper La Derniere Heure. "Football isn't an exact science. After such a fruitful season, you're paying more attention to him and he restarted [preseason training] late.

"When I arrived in the Premier League, six months later I won the prize for best player too, awarded by journalists. Right afterwards, I really suffered with my game. Like Hazard this season. Had I done something different? No, I did everything the same way but I didn't feel as good."

Asked if Hazard needed to make changes to his game, Zola replied: "You simply have to continue to work in the same way and to forget that you were elected the best player in the Premier League. You have to refocus on simple things, get scoring again, then things will get back to normal.

"He'll end up coming back. Don't forget that Hazard is very young... 25 is not a lot at that level."

Zola, now coach of Qatari club Al-Arabi, also reiterated his interest in John Terry.

Terry expects to leave Stamford Bridge this summer after being informed in January that no offer of a contract extension was forthcoming -- though the club insist "channels of dialogue" will remain open with their captain over his future. 

"John is a big name and would be good for the Qatari league," Zola added. "But it's still a little early to talk about this case. If the interest materialises, I won't need to convince him. I'll talk to him as coach of Al-Arabi but also as a friend and I'll tell him honestly what he needs to know."

Liam is ESPN FC's Chelsea correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Liam_Twomey.


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