Eden Hazard must 'step up' to regain top form for Chelsea - Guus Hiddink
LONDON -- Guus Hiddink insists Eden Hazard is happy to stay at Chelsea but has challenged the Belgian to "step up" and rediscover the form that propelled him to last season's PFA Player of the Year award.
In the last campaign, Hazard inspired the Blues to their first Premier League title in five years with 14 goals and nine assists, but he's struggled badly for confidence and fitness this season, scoring just once in 33 appearances in all competitions for the Blues.
Concerns over the 25-year-old's focus were raised after an interview published by Le Parisien on the eve of Tuesday's Champions League round-of-16 clash with Paris Saint-Germain quoted him as refusing to rule out a summer transfer to the Ligue 1 giants or Real Madrid.
Hiddink says Hazard has told him that he remains committed to Chelsea and is adamant that both parties are committed to helping the winger return to his best.
"He was in a difficult situation but he has to step up," Hiddink said of Hazard. "He knows that, also from our talks with him. Every now and then I have small conversations with him about how to step up to the next level, and that's what his wish is. I hope that he will step up as soon as possible.
"Sometimes he shows what he is able to do. He had one sprint down the right-hand side [against PSG] that was the old Hazard, and we want to see that more frequently. He showed it once but he can show more. He is aware of that. Now it's up to him to step up.
"Every now and then [before the PSG game] I had very short conversations with him and asked him about the situation. He is very keen to be here. He has extended his contract, he is happy here. His family are happy here, so there's no sign from his side that he's eager to go.
"He's happy but he wants to step up as well."
One player not yet ready to perform for Chelsea is Alexandre Pato. The Brazilian remains significantly short of match fitness after arriving on loan from Corinthians at the end of January and Hiddink admits he does not yet know when his new striker will be in a position to make his debut.
"He is now in two-and-a-half, three weeks of preseason, and we'll see what will happen this afternoon," Hiddink said when asked about Pato's condition. "I have another [meeting] with the people who brought him. He's getting fitter and fitter and we'll see what the results of the tests we did [on Friday] are, where he can come in."
Liam is ESPN FC's Chelsea correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Liam_Twomey.