Eden Hazard said that he wants to leave the club for Real Madrid, with the Spaniards ready to make a possible £200million bid for him.
On the day that new manager Maurizio Sarri took over at Stamford Bridge, Hazard emerged from helping Belgium beat England 2-0 in the World Cup third-place match to say that he wanted no part in the future the Italian had mapped out.
Hazard, who has two years left on his contract, said: ‘I have spent six years with Chelsea. I played a fantastic World Cup, so it’s maybe time to change something.
Chelsea will make the final decision — if they want to let me go, you know my preferred destination. After six wonderful years at Chelsea it might be time to discover something different. It’s not my decision, so now I just want to go on holiday and see what happens.’
It is understood that Hazard will not fight to leave Chelsea and if they attempt to keep him, he may stay – but Real, the European champions, may be willing to break the world transfer record, as they look to rebuild after the £88m departure of Cristiano Ronaldo to Juventus.
Hazard’s recent form has impressed Real. He was strong during Belgium’s World Cup, scoring the second goal against England. However the midfielder, who came close to joining Real in 2017, did fade during the semi-final loss to France.
Hazard’s declaration of intent came as Napoli were attacked by Manchester City for ‘unprofessional’ conduct in Chelsea’s £57m signing of midfielder Jorginho, whom the new boss Sarri has brought with him from Italy.
City sources claim the 26-year-old has been ‘bullied’ into signing a five-year deal for Chelsea, having indicated as recently as Thursday he wanted to play for Pep Guardiola.
It is alleged that Napoli had threatened the Italy international with having to see out the remaining two years on his contract in Naples if he turned down Chelsea.
City sources also say Chelsea offering an extra €10m (£8.8m) persuaded Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis into doing a U-turn on their agreement.
Jorginho’s agent, Joao Santos, was not able to persuade De Laurentiis to honour a £44.2m deal they had effectively shaken hands on with City.
Chelsea reject City’s claims and could not be contacted on Saturday night. The controversy was not an ideal way for Sarri to begin his reign as boss, a day after the club finally sacked Antonio Conte.
The 59-year-old will meet his new squad at Cobham tomorrow before flying to Australia with them for a pre-season tour this week. Chelsea play Perth Glory on July 23.
It remains to be seen how much input he will have into transfers — something which annoyed Conte. Sarri, who will take intensive lessons to learn English, is set to bring Gianfranco Zola into his backroom staff.