LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 19: Eden Hazard of Chelseaduring the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Chelsea FC at Emirates Stadium on January 19, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri has declared that Eden Hazard can leave the club if that is what he seeks.

The Belgium captain’s future at Stamford Bridge has been up in the air for quite some time now with just 18 months left on his current contract.

Hazard has remained coy on whether or not he will sign a contract extension after confessing that joining Real Madrid would be a “dream” for him in October.

Chelsea are understood to be determined to prevent their star man from leaving and retain hope they can persuade him to sign a new long-term deal.

But should the Blues fail to make any progress over the next six months, then they may be forced to sell him this summer rather than risk losing him for nothing in 2020.

And now Sarri has dropped, perhaps, the biggest indication yet over Hazard’s future by saying he’s entitled to make up his own mind after announcing that Chelsea’s highly-rated youngster Callum Hudson-Odoi will not be leaving.

“The situation of Eden is different,” said Sarri, according to Sky Sports.

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“Eden is 28. If he wants to go, I think he has to go.

“Of course, I hope the opposite, I hope he wants to stay here.

“He has the potential to be the best player in Europe at the moment.”

Hazard has registered 10 goals and assists in 22 Premier League appearances for Chelsea this season.

Due to their lack of suitable attacking options, Sarri has often deployed Hazard as a “false nine” for Chelsea and he’s delivered well in that role.

Although now that Gonzalo Higuain has completed his loan move from Juventus, it’s expected that Hazard will begin to feature more regularly in his preferred position down the left wing.

Chelsea will take a trip to the Vitality Stadium tonight to face Bournemouth in a Premier League match with kick-off set for 20:45 (CET).