Eden Hazard leaving Chelsea more likely without extension soon - Cesc Fabregas
Cesc Fabregas has said that he believes Chelsea could struggle to keep Eden Hazard next summer unless they agree a contract extension.
Sources have told ESPN FC that Chelsea are prepared to make Hazard the highest-paid player in the club's history if he agrees to sign a new long-term contract, having been heavily linked with a move to Real Madrid last summer.
"It was an easy decision [not to sell], especially now, because at this stage how much can Eden cost? Not many teams in the world can buy Eden Hazard," Fabregas told the Evening Standard. "He still had two years left on his contract.
"Next year if he has one year left, that's a different story. You don't have as much power as a club. Eden is one of the best players in the world.
"But having two years left, especially how the market is, it's basically impossible to sign him up. I don't think it was that hard from the club [to keep him]."
Hazard provided a spectacular reminder of his quality in Wednesday's 2-1 win over Liverpool in the Carabao Cup third round. He beat five defenders over the course of a dazzling move before smashing an unstoppable shot beyond Simon Mignolet to eliminate Jurgen Klopp's men at Anfield for his seventh goal in eight appearances.
The Belgian had suggested in July that "it might be time to discover something different" after six years at Stamford Bridge, making it clear that Madrid was his "preferred destination". Chelsea, however, never wavered in their stance that the Belgian was not for sale at any price and the Spanish giants never made a formal approach to sign him.
Chelsea assistant Gianfranco Zola reiterated after the match that he believes Hazard can get even better under the guidance of Maurizio Sarri this season, and Fabregas added that experience has enabled the Belgian superstar to reach new levels of efficiency and threat.
"I have had some great moments with Eden on the pitch but maybe in terms of maturity, yes it is the best [form of his career]," Fabregas said. "He has always had the ability but he is at an age now where he feels he can be more dangerous. He knows when to pass more, when to dribble.
"His maturity has improved a lot and now he is scoring goals, decisive goals which we all wanted from him. When you see the top players, this is what they do. They make a difference in terms of scoring goals. I think he needed that to make the step forward and at the moment he is doing that so hopefully he can keep it up."