Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho believes Eden Hazard’s below-par showing against Aston Villa at the weekend was a one-off.
Hazard was Chelsea’s startling performer last season and is likely to sign a new contract at Stamford Bridge, staving off reported interest from Paris St Germain and Real Madrid.
The 23-year-old Belgium playmaker has spoken of his desire to claim the Ballon d’Or and wanted the No.10 shirt at Chelsea, worn by his idol Zinedine Zidane.
Chelsea travel to face Sporting Lisbon in the Champions League this evening and Hazard is expected to play a key role.
When it was suggested Hazard was below his best in the defeat of Villa, Mourinho said: “Yes. I agree. I don’t know what he needs. I know he needs to play more than he did (against Villa).
“He started the season well. Eden played good matches with us.
“I think it’s more an isolated not-good performance than a period.
“No dramas and I am not too much worried about it, but Saturday was not his day.”
It is likely Mourinho will give Hazard another chance to return to his high-standard of performance tonight.
Mourinho also hopes to select Diego Costa for a second match in quick succession in Portugal but it remains to be seen how the prolific striker recovers, given his fragile hamstrings.
Hazard’s performance was not down to World Cup fatigue, Mourinho believes.
But Brazilians Oscar, Willian and Ramires, who is currently out with a groin injury, and German World Cup-winner Andre Schurrle are still finding their feet after a strenuous summer.
“Not one of them arrived and had enough time in the pre-season to start the season in a very strong way,” Mourinho said.