Maurizio Sarri backs Eden Hazard to become Europe's best player amid Real Madrid rumours

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Chelsea head coach Maurizio Sarri says Eden Hazard can be the best player in Europe – if he wants to be.

Hazard has often sparkled in six years at Chelsea, bringing comparisons with Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

The Belgium playmaker could make his first start of the season in Saturday’s Premier League clash with Arsenal and will be expected to do well after a strong showing at the World Cup.

Sarri said: “We are talking about one of the most important players in Europe now but, in my opinion, he can improve more. He can be the first.

“It depends on him. The best for technical skill, the best for scoring, but I think it depends only on him. On his mind.”

The 27-year-old is beginning his seventh season at Chelsea and has twice won the Premier League title. He hinted after helping Belgium finish third at Russia 2018 that he was ready for a new challenge.

Rumours of a switch to Real Madrid have been persistent and have grown as Hazard has two years remaining on his current contract and has been deliberating over the offer of an extension for some time.

The Spanish transfer window remains open until August 31, but Sarri has no doubts Hazard will be with Chelsea for the rest of the season, despite the absence of Champions League football after the Blues’ fifth-placed finish in last season’s Premier League.

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Unai Emery warns Mesut Ozil to step up his defensive work as Arsenal prepare for Chelsea clash

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Arsenal head coach Unai Emery has warned Mesut Ozil he must help his team-mates to defend as he calls for commitment from all of his players.

The Gunners travel to Chelsea on Saturday evening on the back of a 2-0 home defeat to reigning Premier League champions Manchester City in Emery’s first game in charge.

The Spaniard replaced Arsene Wenger in May and is attempting to introduce his own style and philosophy after more than two decades under the former manager.

Playing out from the back is one of those changes, as is encouraging his players to press across the pitch – demanding more from his forwards as he looks to defend from the front.

Ozil has come in for criticism for a drop in effort at times but, under Emery’s new system, Arsenal’s highest-paid player will be expected to muck in.

The former Real Madrid man endured a tough summer, culminating in his acrimonious retirement from international duty with Germany following a disappointing World Cup.

When asked about the defensive duties placed on Ozil in the City game, Emery replied: “Every player needs to (defend) in the true moment of a match.

“There are defensive moments and attacking moments. Every player each needs this commitment. For me, we need to start together, whether we are attacking or defending. I want that from every player.

“The position, he (Ozil) is playing all his career like a number 10-player, like a right-winger going inside to receive the ball.

“It’s clear he needs the ball more to give more options in the attacking moments. He needs to do (it) in each match, be demanding for us but defensive moments are for each and every player.”

Emery stuck with a tried and tested 4-2-3-1 formation against City but has hinted the system, as well as the personnel, could change until he finds the right formula.

“It depends on the performance and if the performance is good,” he said when asked about trying different systems.

“I want to give them the chances in each match and maybe we need a lot of matches for the chances for every player but we started with the pre-season and every player is playing for chances and minutes and with all the competitions.

“We only play Sunday, Sunday, Sunday but in September we will start playing Sunday and Thursday and also we are going to play more matches and I think every player will get chances to show us his performance for the team.”

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'Scary' Mohamed Salah will have another huge season, says Mido

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Former Egypt international Ahmed Hossam “Mido” believes Mohamed Salah is destined for another dream year with Liverpool, following his record-breaking campaign with the Reds last season.

After netting an unprecedented 32 Premier League goals on his debut season at Anfield, Salah picked up where he left off in the first game of the new campaign, opening the scoring for Liverpool in their 4-0 drubbing of West Ham on Sunday.

‘The Egyptian King’ scooped a host of awards last season and took the football world by storm. Ex-Spurs and Roma striker, Mido, is confident Salah will keep his form up this year.

“What a great job he’s done, he’s been unbelievable. He’s been determined, he’s been focused. And people question if he’s going to do the same season again, I think he will,” Mido said in an appearance on Sky Sports.

“Because he’s so focused. He’s got only one interest in his life and that’s football. He works hard every day, you can see that the way he played last game that he’s still determined and still hungry to score goals.”

Salah’s previous Premier League experience was an indifferent brief stint with Chelsea under Jose Mourinho in 2014 before he was loaned out to Fiorentina then Roma. He says he was determined to make a return to England’s top flight and show what he was really made of. Mido sees Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp as the perfect man to work with Salah.

“He’s [Salah’s] scary. If I played against him I would be scared,” admits Mido.

“He’s just so quick, sharp, can score goals with different ways, different types of goals. And to be honest Jurgen Klopp was the best man for him because he could change the way he’s playing. Salah at Roma and at Chelsea and at Basel, he was a winger, he was a proper winger, playing on the flanks, getting balls one-to-one, quick, a line player.

“But Klopp has been very clever, he tucked him in a little bit, he put him a little bit into the pockets as a second striker from the right and he’s always got someone behind him who defends well for him. So Salah he doesn’t need to do a lot of work defensively. Okay he defends well, the counter-press, the press when they lose the ball, but he doesn’t have to track back as he used to do at Chelsea, and as he used to do at Roma, which makes him more fresh when he gets the ball. He’s just scary.”

A rumoured move to Real Madrid has been making the rounds since last season, leaving Liverpool fans terrified they might lose their star. But Mido sees Salah staying at the Merseyside club for several more years, and feels a move wouldn’t make much sense.

“People love him at Liverpool, he’s working with the manager he wants to work with, a manager that gives him confidence, he trusts him, he plays him the right way and I don’t see him leaving,” said the 35-year-old Mido, who has managed Egyptian sides Zamalek and Wadi Degla since he hung up his cleats, and is also a football commentator.

“If he didn’t leave this transfer window, he’s not going anywhere. I think he wants to stay at Liverpool. I’ve spoken to people around him, he’s very happy. He wants to stay at Liverpool as long as he can. Why would he want to leave?

“Okay Real Madrid is massive, Barcelona is massive, but Liverpool isn’t a small club, it’s a big, big club. To be there, to feel loved from the Liverpool people, I think that’s what every player is dreaming of. Why would you take the risk?

“I think it’s  big risk. To go to a different country, a different experience, a lot of pressure, you never know if you’re going to do well or not. But at Liverpool he already established himself, established himself in England, so I really think that Salah wants to stay at Liverpool for another at least three or four years.”

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