Cesc Fabregas has appeared to concede that Chelsea will face a much tougher task to keep Eden Hazard next summer than they did this year, with the Belgium star in no rush to agree on a new contract.
Hazard, who scored a brilliant individual goal at Anfield last night to help Chelsea beat Liverpool 2-1 in the Carabao Cup, admitted he wanted to leave Stamford Bridge in July after starring at the World Cup.
The 27-year-old suggested that Real Madrid was his “preferred destination”, however Chelsea told the Spanish club he was not for sale.
Hazard has less than two years left on his deal and as Standard Sport revealed last month, he is prepared to wait before discussing fresh terms as he discovers if Chelsea can qualify for the Champions League again and challenge for major honours.
Keeping Hazard this season is already being regarded by pundits and the club’s supporters as Chelsea’s best bit of business in the summer. But Fabregas told Standard Sport: “It was an easy decision, especially now, because at this stage how much can Eden cost? Not many teams in the world can buy Eden Hazard. He still had two years left on his contract.
“Next year if he has one year left, that’s a different story. You don’t have as much power as a club. Eden is one of the best players in the world.
“But having two years left, especially how the market is, it’s basically impossible to sign him up. I don’t think it was that hard from the club.”
Hazard’s brilliant strike saw him beat three players, including Alberto Moreno twice, before drilling a superb shot past Belgium team-mate Simon Mignolet.
It was his sixth goal in seven appearances for Chelsea, which is his most prolific start to a season since joining them from Lille for £32m in 2012.
Fabregas believes he has taken his game on to another level and added: “I have had some great moments with Eden on the pitch but maybe in terms of maturity, yes it is the best [form of his career].
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“He has always had the ability but he is at an age now where he feels he can be more dangerous. He knows when to pass more, when to dribble.
“His maturity has improved a lot and now he is scoring goals, decisive goals which we all wanted from him.
“When you see the top players, this is what they do. They make a difference in terms of scoring goals. I think he needed that to make the step forward and at the moment he is doing that so hopefully he can keep it up.”