Eden Hazard challenges Chelsea to strengthen squad over summer

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Eden Hazard has challenged Chelsea to match his ambitions with new signings to bolster the squad.

The 27-year-old Belgium playmaker is under contract until 2020 and is reportedly mulling over an extension.

Chelsea pulled off a coup in signing Hazard in the summer of 2012, but the club’s transfer business has been more circumspect since.

Asked what would persuade him to sign, Hazard said: “I’m waiting for new players next season. I want good players because I want to win next season the Premier League.”

Hazard acknowledges this is likely his last lucrative, long-term deal. But he made it clear he was in no rush to leave amid persistent rumours linking him with Real Madrid.

He added: “That’s why I’m taking my time. It’s something big. I need to think about a lot of things.

“One thing I’m sure is that I’m happy here.”

Any supporters seeking reassurance that Saturday’s FA Cup final with Manchester United would not be Hazard’s last match for Chelsea could take some encouragement from his words on Tuesday.

“I think it’s not my last game. It’s the last game of the season, that’s it,” he added.

“For me in my mind I’m here. I have one week to play now. Saturday is a massive game. I just want to win.”

Hazard, who will go to the World Cup with Belgium this summer, said he was not sure when his future would be resolved.

He also insisted the uncertainty surrounding Antonio Conte’s position as head coach has had no impact on the squad.

Conte’s future has been the subject of speculation all season, with many expecting the Italian to leave this summer.

Hazard added: “We don’t think about that. We’re just focused on the game. We have one game to play and then we’ll see what happens at the end of the season.”

Hazard announced his arrival at Chelsea after their memorable Champions League win six years ago.

And if Chelsea can lift the FA Cup on Saturday then the European Cup will be the one major honour to elude him during his time at Stamford Bridge.

“I need two more trophies, Champions League and FA Cup. That’s it,” Hazard said.

Chelsea won the Premier League in Conte’s first season as head coach for Hazard’s second championship winners’ medal in England.

But the Blues finished fifth this term and have failed to qualify for next season’s Champions League.

“We’re Chelsea. We need trophies at the end of the season,” Hazard added. “At the moment we have nothing. We have not qualified for the Champions League. So the season has been bad.

“If we can’t be in the Champions League we need the trophy.

“It’s up to us to save the season with the FA Cup. I’ve never won the FA Cup. I hope this year is for me and for Chelsea. We will give everything.”

Chelsea and Hazard face a familiar foe in Jose Mourinho, who had two spells as Blues boss.

Hazard added: “We know how he will play. We all know that. That’s why we need to be ready.”

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Man City boss Pep Guardiola named Premier League Manager of the Year

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Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has been voted the Premier League Manager of the Year by the League Manager’s Association.

Spaniard Guardiola saw his side set a new Premier League points record of 100, scoring 106 goals along the way.

Guardiola collected his accolade at the LMA Awards dinner in London on Tuesday night, having 24 hours earlier enjoyed celebrating City’s triumph with an open-top bus parade around Manchester.

Elsewhere, Cardiff boss Neil Warnock received an LMA Special Achievement Award to mark a record eighth career promotion after taking the Welsh club up in second place in the Sky Bet Championship.

Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santo picked up the LMA Championship award, having seen his side secure the title.

The LMA League One Manager Of The Year award went to Shrewsbury’s Paul Hurst, whose team finished third behind Blackburn and champions Wigan. The Shrews saw off Charlton to book their place in the play-off final at Wembley, where they will face either Scunthorpe or Rotherham.

John Coleman collected the League Two award after Accrington Stanley claimed the title with 93 points.

Chelsea manager Emma Hayes won the FA Women’s Super League award after leading her side to a league and cup double.

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Robert Pires backs former Arsenal captain Patrick Vieira to succeed Arsene Wenger

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Former Arsenal captain Vieira has been considered a managerial candidate.

Patrick Vieira is “ready to manage Arsenal,” according to former team-mate Robert Pires.

Arsene Wenger took charge of his last game at Huddersfield on Sunday as the curtain came down on a 22-year spell at the helm.

A number of Arsenal’s backroom staff have followed Wenger in leaving as the club prepare for life beyond the Frenchman.

Two former club captains Mikel Arteta and Vieira, currently head coach at New York City in the Major Soccer League, are among the favourites for the role.

Massimiliano Allegri of Juventus and former Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti both continue to also be linked with the vacancy.

Arteta has, though, emerged as the front-runner and is reportedly the preferred choice of Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis.

The 36-year-old, however, holds no direct managerial experience, having served under Pep Guardiola at Manchester City since his retirement at the end of the 2015/2016 campaign.

Vieira is also a firm favourite with Gunners’ fans, having helped drive Wenger’s Invincibles team through their unbeaten league season of 2003/2004.

Frenchman Pires – who enjoyed a successful six-year spell at Highbury before joining Villarreal in the summer of 2006 – believes all of the names linked could take on the role, but is in no doubt of the man he would like to see succeed Wenger.

“I have seen the shortlist: Allegri, Carlo Ancelotti, Mikel Arteta – why not? I think all of them could manage Arsenal,” Pires said in an interview with BTSport.com.

“There’s maybe a small advantage for Allegri and Ancelotti as they both have a lot of experience in Italy, Germany and England.

“With Vieira – and this is only my opinion – yes. Not just because he’s my friend. Forget this.

“He is doing very well with New York City, and he told me the job is very hard and difficult.

“However, he has a very good profile to replace Arsene Wenger, because he knows football, he knows the Premier League and of course, he knows Arsenal.

“So that’s why I say – yes, Patrick Vieira is ready to manage Arsenal.”

While the managerial vacancy remains to be filled, the club has wasted no time in clearing the decks for the new regime.

Boro Primorac, a long-term coach and friend of Wenger, was always likely to leave and, as the outgoing manager prepares to clear his office later this week, a number of other backroom staff have also been relieved of their duties.

Colin Lewin, head of the club’s medical department, has been at the club a year longer than Wenger, but will also be departing – as well as coaches Neil Banfield, Gerry Peyton and Tony Colbert, with Paul Johnson leaving his post as equipment manager.

As things stand it appears Wenger’s assistant Steve Bould and Jens Lehmann, recruited to the coaching staff just last summer, will remain under the new manager.

Another name touted as a potential successor has been Hoffenheim head coach Julian Nagelsmann, although the Bundesliga side insisted on Tuesday that the 30-year-old will be going nowhere.

It also remains unclear what Wenger’s next move will be.

The 68-year-old revealed last week he has some work to do in France early this week before returning to Arsenal’s London Colney training centre to clear his desk.

Speaking to the Arsenal website, in quotes published on Tuesday, Wenger said: “It will be very difficult for me (without Arsenal).

“At the moment if I want to continue to work, I think I have to move out of the country, because my gut feeling at the moment is that I would feel I would betray my club by staying in England. People might feel that I’ve betrayed what I’ve built here.

“That is the problem I face at the moment. My club is here, my heart is here and will be forever. As I said in my speech on the pitch after the Burnley (home) game, I’m a fan above all.”

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