Maurizio Sarri admits Chelsea must “solve the problem” of Eden Hazard’s long-term future.
Belgium star Hazard is out of contract in 2020 and Real Madrid want him at the Bernabeu.
Hazard has a league-high direct hand in 19 goals this term and, after netting twice in the 2-1 win at Watford, insisted he wants to be a Chelsea “legend”.
Hazard, 27, has since said he will wait until the summer before resolving his long-term future.
Asked whether he expects Hazard to stay at Chelsea, Sarri replied: “I don’t know but I think that it’s time to decide.
“I think we have to solve the problem.”
Asked if he could resolve the issue himself, the Italian boss continued: “No, because I have not the power to do this.
“I am the coach. I am not the president, I am not in charge of the market.’’
Hazard’s match-turning showing at Vicarage Road on St Stephen’s Day proved his abilities as a central striker, despite the player wanting to operate on the wing and not as a ‘false nine’.
Sarri added: “I cannot see the problem of Hazard in this role, he played four matches as a false number nine, scored three goals and made two assists.”
Chelsea play Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park at noon tomorrow, but must do so without Spain forward Pedro and possibly Callum Hudson-Odoi.
Both players were withdrawn against Watford due to hamstring injuries and Pedro is expected to be out for 10 days.