Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho says he and Eden Hazard have “different concepts” of what an effective No. 10 should do.
Hazard was named Footballer of the Year last season and scored 19 times, but he has struggled to hit the same heights this term and is yet to get off the mark in 20 appearances this season.
Mourinho criticised the 24-year-old’s work rate earlier in the season and dropped the Belgian playmaker in a bid to jolt Hazard into life, and while he has shown signs of the form he showed last season he has still not managed to replicate his brilliant form from 2014/15.
Hazard is believed to prefer to play centrally in the No. 10 role and even persuaded Mourinho to play him there in the win over Norwich, but Mourinho is not so keen on keeping him in that role – prompting reports that Real Madrid could be keeping tabs on Hazard.
Asked if Hazard can emulate Deco and Wesley Sneijder as Mourinho’s favourite playmakers, the Blues boss said: “As a No. 10? I don’t think so.
“I like a No. 10 to score goals. I like a No. 10 to get in the box. I like a No. 10 to score Oscar goals against Maccabi.
“A No. 10 for me is an eight-and-a-half when the team loses the ball and a nine-and-a-half when the team has the ball.”
Mourinho, who is likely to revert Hazard to the left wing against Spurs on Sunday, revealed his vision of a No. 10.
“We have different concepts of No. 10. Me and him,” added Mourinho.
“For me a No. 10 does a lot of things, with the ball and without the ball. So for me a No. 10 is a very special player in my team, when I play with a No. 10, which in Chelsea in the last period we are doing.
“In my first period here we played without a No. 10. We played with two No. 8’s. In a system of two midfield players and a No. 10, I demand a lot from a No. 10.
“Every position is important, but it’s an important position.”