Jose Mourinho has received support from an unlikely source after Eden Hazard revealed he would love to play for the under-pressure Manchester United manager again.
While there is no chance of him moving to United, Hazard’s surprise claim may be of interest to Real Madrid, who the Belgian is hoping to join next summer.
Mourinho remains on good terms with Real president Florentino Pérez and would be a candidate to replace Julen Lopetegui if both men lost their current jobs.
Despite a victory over Newcastle United, Mourinho remains under pressure at United as he prepares for next weekend’s trip to Hazard’s Chelsea.
And Spanish reports have claimed Lopetegui’s future could be decided by the Oct 28 game between Real and Barcelona, following a four-match run without a point or a goal.
Hazard has made it clear he would have no problem moving to Real if Mourinho returned to the Santiago Bernabéu for a second spell in charge, despite enduring the worst season of his career during the campaign in which the 55-year-old was sacked by Chelsea.
Hazard scored just four Premier League goals in the entire 2015/16 season, none of which came before when Mourinho lost his job in Dec 2015.
In an interview with Belgian newspaper HLN, Hazard said: “The last season under Mourinho was not pleasant anymore, we didn’t win, we got into a sort of routine, training-training without having fun, it was better for all parties that the collaboration came to an end. But if I’m now asked one coach with whom I want to work again, then I say ‘Mourinho’.
“If you win, Mourinho is the best coach you can imagine. Then he is a friend of yours – you can do whatever you want. Want one day off, he gives you two. If everything goes well, Mourinho will experience football like me: with ease. Even his own image of an extremely defensive coach was not too bad. He is far from adventurous like [Pep] Guardiola, but the year in which we became champions, we have made many goals and played good games.
“I do not regret many things in my career, but that I have not been able to work with Mourinho at Chelsea anymore [is one]. We had a team to get a lot of prizes, but we just ended up in a negative spiral.”
Hazard also admitted he was partly to blame for Mourinho’s downfall, adding: “I have had one bad year – the last six months under Mourinho and it was partly my own fault. After the title, we had asked Mourinho for extra holidays. I was totally out of shape at the start of the season, I remembered that lesson this summer – four weeks after the World Cup, I was back in training at Chelsea.”
While he waits for a signal from Real that they will make a big push to sign him next summer, Hazard has promised to stop speaking about the European champions and insists he will be happy – whatever the outcome of his Chelsea future.
Asked about his honesty in admitting his desire to join Real, despite Chelsea’s desperation to extend his contract that runs out at the end of next season, Hazard said: “I’m going to stop. Let me put it this way, if I ever play for Real Madrid, I will be very happy, and if I will never play for Real Madrid, it is because it is not allowed. And then I will be happy at Chelsea.”
New Chelsea head coach, Maurizio Sarri, who has already helped to bring out Hazard’s best-ever form at Stamford Bridge, is relaxed about his star man’s future.
Talking to Corriere dello Sport, Sarri said: “His contract expires in 2020, but he’s staying here.
“Hazard is immense and I don’t think even he knows how much he can still improve. I said he could end up in the tight circle of the best three or four players in the world.
“The problem is he plays to enjoy himself and at times doesn’t realise the importance of moving from fun to reaping the rewards. At the end of the day, you’ve got to get the fruits of your labour.
“Hazard’s approach is a positive, but it can become a potential limitation too. He needs to lift his head up, look around and realise there’s a whole world in front of him that he can dictate with his feet for the good of the collective and not just the individual.”
Sarri also suggested he could look at Hazard in the false nine position, adding: “I was tempted to use Hazard as a centre-forward and I might consider it again in future, but it’s not the right time now. We need to believe in Olivier Giroud and Alvaro Morata.”