Belgium, Chelsea, Clubs, English Premier League, Story


John Obi Mikel explains why he believes that as long as Roman Abramovich is in charge of Chelsea, fans shouldn’t be concerned for the club’s future.

Eden Hazard says he would like to know who Chelsea’s manager will be next season before committing his future to the Premier League club.

Chelsea’s summer transfer plans hinge largely on the plans for boss Antonio Conte, who has a year left on his contract but whose return is in doubt after he failed to qualify the Blues for the Champions League.

Hazard has two years left on his Chelsea deal, and though he’s focused on preparing for the World Cup with Belgium, the 27-year-old admitted he’s also curious in what Chelsea are doing this summer.

Asked whether Chelsea’s uncertain coaching situation might impact his plans for his own future, Hazard said: “Yeah, I want to know. I want to know, but like I say I am focused on the World Cup.

“If we have something new — manager or players — it is always good to know it because I want players that can [help bring success back to] Chelsea next season. But to be fair the transfer market is not here yet. We will see after.”

Hazard also admitted that Chelsea’s FA Cup triumph was scarcely enough to salvage an otherwise disappointing season.

“We had a bad season with Chelsea. We won the FA Cup at the end — so it was a little bit better, but I’m only focused on the World Cup,” Hazard said. “Then I let the board manage Chelsea the best way that they can.”

Eden Hazard and Antonio Conte

Belgium, third in the FIFA rankings, go into the World Cup as Group G favourites before their opener against Panama, and will contest their final warm-up against fellow CONCACAF qualifiers Costa Rica on Monday.

And coach Roberto Martinez said the outing in Brussels against the 2014 surprise quarterfinalists would give Belgium’s team of individual talents a chance to test their collective resilience against a Panama side with nothing to lose in their first-ever World Cup finals.

“Maybe Panama get inspiration from what Costa Rica did in 2014 in Brazil,” Martinez said. “There’s no fear in the performances of CONCACAF teams.

“They are quite happy to trust each on the pitch… If we are not a team in difficult moments during the game these teams can really hurt you.”

Belgium also will face Tunisia and England, and Martinez said he was impressed by the North African side in their tight 1-0 defeat to Spain.

“Yesterday, for me, they deserved to win the game,” Martinez said. “It was just a confirmation that Tunisia could be one of the surprises in the World Cup.”

Martinez stuck by his decision to name his final 23-man squad only 24 hours before the kick-off against Panama in Sochi, giving key defenders Vincent Kompany and Thomas Vermaelen maximum time to prove their fitness.

Information from Reuters was used in this report.



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