Chelsea fear it may be a parting gift, but should tonight’s Europa League football final against Arsenal be Eden Hazard’s last game for the club, the Belgian is determined to go out on a high.
Arsenal are aiming to win a first European football trophy in a quarter of a century in distant Baku tonight and their hopes of doing so appear to rest at the feet of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette.
The match kicks-off at 9pm.
After seven seasons at Stamford Bridge, Hazard is expected to move to Real Madrid this summer after running down his contract into its final year.
“I just want to win the trophy if it is my last game,” said Hazard at the prospect of bowing out with his sixth Chelsea trophy.
Hazard has already told the club of where his future lies, with all signs pointing to a departure for the Spanish capital.
However, Chelsea’s position is complicated by a Fifa ban on signing players for the next two transfer windows.
Sell now and as things stand, pending an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, they will be unable to recruit a replacement.
Holding onto Hazard for a further 12 months, though, runs the risk that he can leave on a free transfer rather than for a reported £100 million.
“We need to be ready if he wants something different,” admitted Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri, who himself could be headed for pastures new after the final in Baku.
However, the 28-year-old believes his best seasons are not measured in statistics, but silverware. “In terms of goals and assists, yes,” he said when asked if this had been his best season in England. “But for me a good season is not if I score 40 goals, I want to win something at the end. I don’t look just for the statistics.” In Hazard’s time, Chelsea have won two Premier League titles, the FA Cup, League Cup and the Europa League.