Eden Hazard has said he will not leave Chelsea until he has led the club to another Premier League title, and that head coach Antonio Conte has always seen him as a goal scorer.
Conte’s switch to a 3-4-3 formation at the end of September has revived Chelsea’s fortunes and the Blues lie second in the Premier League after a run of five consecutive victories, scoring 16 goals and conceding none.
Hazard has played a key role, scoring seven goals in 11 Premier League appearances — one more than he managed in the entirety of last season in all competitions — and being voted the top flight’s player of the month for October.
The Belgium international insists he never contemplated leaving Chelsea last summer despite a nightmare season in which he struggled to find form and fitness, and says that if he does one day depart Stamford Bridge he is determined to do so on a high.
“Last year was complicated,” Hazard told the Guardian. “Some people didn’t believe it, but I played with a [hip] injury for a long time. I was never 100 percent, and when you’re not completely fit it’s hard to play at your best. But I had a good break after the Euros, a good preseason, and was ready.
“Liberated, yes. It feels like that sometimes, being injury-free and if a system brings the best out of you.
“Back in March I’d spoken [to Conte] about the difficult season I’d had up to then, and what he expected of me in the year to come. I’d not scored many goals, but he saw me as a goal scorer. He spoke to me about his preferred systems, the 3-4-3 or even with two up front.
“His passion and enthusiasm for the job were obvious. I made clear I had no intention of leaving after such a poor year. I didn’t want to go out like that.
“If I ever leave, it’ll be after winning a championship. You need to go out on a high so that people remember you for the right reasons.”
Hazard is back on track to reclaim the PFA Player of the Year award he won after inspiring Chelsea to the Premier League title with 14 goals and nine assists in the 2014-15 season, and the Belgian says that recent results have strengthened the faith of he and his teammates in Conte’s new direction.
“If someone had told us before the season that if we did everything Conte asked of us we’d have a chance to become champions again, we’d all have signed up,” Hazard added. “We have bought into it. This is what he wants from us and believes we need to do to achieve something special.”