Hazard can handle himself, insists unconcerned Conte
Antonio Conte has no concerns over teams targeting Eden Hazard, whom the Chelsea manager insists can deal with the physicality of the Premier League
Eden Hazard will not be cowed by any team looking to use unfair means to shackle him, says Chelsea manager Antonio Conte.
The Belgium international has been in scintillating form for the Premier League leaders this season, and was the victim of numerous fouls during the opening exchanges of Monday’s FA Cup quarter-final victory over Manchester United.
United’s Ander Herrera was sent off for two cautions in the first half, both for transgressions on Hazard, and Conte said afterwards he felt his player had been targeted.
In Friday’s media conference ahead of Chelsea’s trip to Stoke City, Conte was questioned on the subject of Hazard, whom the Italian insists can look after himself.
“I understand in football there are these types of situations and you don’t always face teams who want to play football,” Conte said.
“Eden is showing great football but also great character and personality in every game. He is a type of player who is very difficult to stop and for this reason you try to stop him with a good or bad way.
“But I’m not worried about this because Eden is very strong physically, and he’s showed me he’s able to play in this league. He’s not tall but he’s strong.
“During the game it can happen to get kicked, it’s normal, but the referee must pay great attention and try to respect the rules because football is a great sport.”
Conte was also asked about reports he is dissatisfied with his lack of control regarding the recruitment of new players at Stamford Bridge – something the Italian insists is simply not the case.
“It’s not true,” he said. “I have a good relationship [with the board], when I need something I speak with the club and we always try to find the right solution together.
“If we always take the right decision is difficult to say, but we always take the decisions together.”