Eden Hazard is becoming fed up with Antonio Conte’s tactics and will reportedly consider quitting Chelsea this summer.
The Belgium superstar criticised the way his manager set up for Sunday’s 1-0 defeat at Manchester City.
Conte played Hazard in a false nine role but his star man was stifled throughout the entire game and substituted before the final whistle.
His pre-match team talk was reportedly focused on “defence balance” rather than attacking intent.
It is claimed that some players reckon Conte used the clash as a practise match ahead of their Champions League last 16 second-leg in Barcelona, where they take a 1-1 scoreline into the game.
The Italian, who is locked in a battle with the Stamford Bridge top brass over the club’s ambition, suggested it was “impossible” to compete with City after the defeat.
The Times report that Hazard, 27, is just one of a number of players growing frustrated with what they believe to be negativity stemming from Conte.
And the Telegraph claim his team-mates fear this will push the forward, who has two and a half years remaining on his current contract, into Real Madrid’s clutches.
He moaned: “When you leave the pitch you have the impression that you’ve ran, but that you haven’t played a game of football. That’s a pity.
“We could have played on for three hours and I wouldn’t touch a ball.
“Only at the end it went better. In the last 10-15 minutes we had more possession, but we should have tried to do that all game.
“When the manager plays me up front, I try to give everything. We haven’t played a good game. For me personally it’s difficult to play a good game, when you only touch the ball three times.
“I try to jump towards the long balls. I played against (Nicolas) Otamendi and (Aymeric) Laporte. It’s not easy to win duels against them. We haven’t played with our qualities.
“If (Olivier) Giroud or (Alvaro) Morata would have played up front, it would have been easier to play those long balls. With me, it’s a little bit more complicated, but I’ve tried to do my best.”
Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher believes City’s humiliation of Chelsea will prove to have been the final straw for Hazard.
Speaking on Monday Night Football, he said: “He’s the star player at Chelsea. But there has always been talk of him moving on.
- How Brazil’s misfit midfield transformed them into World Cup favourites
- 11 stats, facts and quirks that will make you think very differently about the Premier League this season
- QUIZ: Can you name the last 10 players to score for England?
“I have no doubt that at the end of that game, as soon as he got on that coach or got home, he will have been right on the phone to his agent saying, ‘get me out of here’.
“Honestly, 100 per cent he would have been.
“He will have been that frustrated thinking, ‘I should be playing in this team, they’ve got the ball. I should be playing in a team that actually dominates the game’.
“Eden Hazard running around up there on his own, not getting a kick of the ball. You want to show everyone in the world watching how good of a player he is.
“I think they will have a major problem keeping him after that.”