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Chelsea ace Eden Hazard tells Antonio Conte he is being played out of position

EDEN HAZARD has told manager Antonio Conte that he is willing to play as a ‘false’ number nine but warned that it is not the way to get the best out of him.

Chelsea’s brilliant but diminutive Belgian was once again played as an out and out striker by Conte on Tuesday night and produced a fine performance, as his side were unlucky to be held 1-1 by Barcelona at Stamford Bridge in their last-16 first leg Champions League tie.

Hazard had played the role in several Premier League games recently, and it had not worked for Conte, as Chelsea slumped to poor defeats against Bournemouth and Watford.

But he tried it again against Barcelona, and it would have paid off with a famous win had it not been for a late defensive error by young Dane Andreas Christensen, which handed Lionel Messi a potentially vital away goal.

Still waiting for talks to begin on a new contract at Stamford Bridge with Real Madrid monitoring his situation, Hazard said: “To be honest, I like the role as a false ‘9’ “But in games like that against quality opposition like Barcelona, it’s difficult. You don’t get a lot of balls. I might have touched 25 balls that night and 15 of them were flying toward my head.

“That is not really playing to my qualities. I won some aerial duels against Gerard Pique, and that’s not bad.

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“But if I had to choose, I prefer to play like I did in the last 10 minutes, which was out wide. But it’s the manager who has the final word.

“On the wing I feel more comfortable. That’s my place.”

Conte may well play the same system in the return leg at the Nou Camp in three weeks’ time, and try to hit Barcelona on the break again with the pace and skill of Hazard and the outstanding Willian.

He insisted that he had chosen to play Belgian captain Hazard in that role because an orthodox striker like Alvaro Morata or Oivier Giroud, neither of whom have had much game time recently, would have unbalanced his side.

Chelsea were unlucky not to win but Hazard said: “In games like that you have to be 100% focused. One error, one goal.

“We should have scored more. We complicated it ourselves. A draw is a bad result. We won’t be able to think defensively in Barcelona. If we only think about defending, we’ll be in a lot of trouble. We will go to try to win. We have to win, we have to score.”

Source: www.express.co.uk

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