The Belgian winger says he has rediscovered the “pleasure” of football since swapping Stamford Bridge for Santiago Bernabeu
Real Madrid winger Eden Hazard has offered an insight into his experience of working under Antonio Conte and Maurizio Sarri at Chelsea, insisting enjoyment was in short supply due to their “rigid” management styles.
Hazard joined Chelsea from Lille back in 2012, and quickly established himself as one of the most exciting players in the Premier League due to his superb dribbling ability and creativity in the final third of the pitch.
The Belgium international won six major trophies during his time at Stamford Bridge, including two Premier League titles – the second of which came during Conte’s first year at the helm.
The Italian head coach was unable to replicate that success in the 2017-18 campaign, however, with questions asked over his stubborn tactics and predictable selection policy.
Hazard contributed 16 goals and 15 assists to Chelsea’s Premier League cause last season – the best numbers of his career to date – but he doesn’t look back on his final few years at the Bridge with any great fondness.
The 29-year-old admits he was “less happy” on the pitch during Conte and Sarri’s respective reigns, but his love of the game has been restored since his £89 million ($116m) move to Madrid.
“In training, we are always using the ball… there’s movement and mini-matches,” Hazard told Sport Magazine. “When you meet Italian coaches like I did (Conte, Sarri…) you are less happy.
“They are more rigid and repetitive. You find pleasure in victory. I spent three years with Italian coaches so to rediscover this pleasure again makes me happy.”
Hazard went on to reveal that he spoke to Real boss Zinedine Zidane over the phone during Euro 2016, which was when he began to dream of a move to the Spanish capital.
“I didn’t talk much with him [before joining],” he said.
“The first time was during the 2016 European Championship in France. He called me and said: ‘It would be good if you came.’
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“When Zidane calls you, it’s serious!”
Hazard has endured a slow start to his Madrid career, with only one goal to his name from 13 matches across all competitions.
The former Chelsea star has been out of action with an ankle injury since a 2-2 draw against Paris Saint Germain in the Champions League on November 26, but he is expected to return at some point in February.