Chelsea's Eden Hazard can win the Ballon d'Or without joining Real Madrid - Maurizio Sarri
LONDON -- Eden Hazard can win the Ballon d'Or without leaving Chelsea to join Real Madrid, according to Maurizio Sarri.
Hazard reiterated at the start of the international break that joining Madrid remains his "dream" and he wants to "make it happen," but added that he is open to discussing a new long-term contract at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea are desperate to keep Hazard, who enters the final year of his current deal this summer, and sources have told ESPN FC that they are prepared to make him the highest-paid player in the club's history as part of any extension.
"He's a fantastic player," Sarri said. "It will be important for us if he remains with us. Very, very important."
It was put to Hazard on Belgium duty that every Ballon d'Or winner since 2008 has played in Spain, and he jokingly replied that he wants to join Madrid to put himself in position to be regarded as the world's best player.
But speaking in a news conference ahead of Chelsea's clash with Manchester United at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, Sarri insisted that Hazard can achieve all of his personal ambitions without going anywhere.
"But I think also that he can win everything, possibly a Ballon d'Or, here, without playing in Spain," he said. "Because, for example, Chelsea will be able to win the Champions League. Belgium could win the European Championship. He could win everything, without playing in Spain."
In response to former Madrid president Ramon Calderon's claim that Chelsea are treating Hazard like a "slave" if they deny him his dream, Sarri laughed and said Hazard is happy at the club.
"I don't know what to say," he said. "I don't think he is. In the last three months, I have seen him always very happy. So I don't think so. It's nothing."
Sarri also dismissed reports that Chelsea have decided to replace Alvaro Morata in January after the Spaniard's underwhelming start to the new season; he has found the net three times in 11 appearances across all competitions this season and been benched in favour of Olivier Giroud.
"I think that they don't know me very well," Sarri said of the reports. "I am not able to think on the market at the moment. I am completely focused on my team, and improving my players. In the last month, I think Morata has played better. In the last three days I have seen him very well in training, very very well."