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Belgium boss Martinez praises Sarri's use of Hazard as a No.9

8:15 PM IST 12/12/18
Eden Hazard Chelsea 2018-19
The Chelsea playmaker operated as a centre-forward against Manchester City and earned the praise of his international manager

Belgium manager Roberto Martinez has praised Maurizio Sarri's use of Eden Hazard as a No.9 and says he's as good as any traditional target man at holding the ball up.

And the former Everton boss says the 27-year-old's willingness to take on the unfamiliar role for Chelsea against Manchester City on Saturday illustrates his willingness to be a team player.

The forward rose to the challenge presented by coach Sarri and assisted both goals in the 2-0 Premier League win.

It is a role in which Martinez believes Hazard can shine but he doesn't expect him to play there every week.

"He's someone who can hold the ball as well as any No.9, a target man," Martinez told the Premier League's official site. "He's got a really good centre of gravity.

"I'm sure Eden can play in different situations but that it was a one-off. You're not going to be facing Manchester City or the quality of Manchester City [every week]."

Hazard, who has again spoken about the possibility of him leaving Chelsea for Real Madrid at the end of his contract, has been the Blues' leading man for the last couple of seasons.

But Martinez is keen to push his credentials as a team player as well as a superstar.

"That's probably what people don't see," Martinez added. "Eden is a mature footballer. If he has to do something for the team he will do it.

"He did it in the World Cup with Belgium. Yes, he relies on individual quality in what he brings in the game, but he is a team player.

"As you saw [on Saturday] he was prepared to do something that he's not used to and doesn't do normally. But he's prepared to understand what he needs to do when the ball gets into his feet."

Hazard is expected to return to his usual playmaking role when Chelsea visit Brighton on Sunday.

The Blues are fourth in the Premier League table, with Saturday's win over City cutting the gap to the champions, who are currently second, to seven points.