Eden Hazard admits to feeling “comfortable” and capable of contributing more to the Chelsea cause when operating out wide, rather than as a false nine.
The Belgium international has been moved centrally by Antonio Conte at times this season, with the Blues prepared to function without an out-and-out striker.
That was the case in their latest outing against Barcelona, with Hazard deployed down the middle, despite Chelsea having Alvaro Morata and Olivier Giroud on the bench.
A versatile performer is prepared to do whatever job is asked of him, but the 27-year-old believes he poses more of a threat when dropped a little deeper and given license to roam across the field.
Hazard said after helping Chelsea to a 1-1 draw with Barca in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 encounter: “To be honest, I like the role as a false nine.
“But in games like that against quality opposition like Barcelona, it’s difficult. You don’t get a lot of balls. I might have touched 25 balls that night and 15 of them were flying toward my head.
“That is not really playing to my qualities. I won some aerial duels against Gerard Pique, and that’s not bad.
“But if I had to choose, I prefer to play like I did in the last 10 minutes, which was out wide. But it’s the manager who has the final word.
“On the wing I feel more comfortable. That’s my place.”
While Hazard’s efforts against Barca have helped to ensure that Chelsea remain in a heavyweight European encounter, he concedes that a stalemate on home soil was “a bad result”.
The Blues will now head to Camp Nou knowing that they have to score, but also aware of the need to keep things tight at the back against an opponent which possesses a considerable attacking threat.
“In games like that you have to be 100 per cent focused. One error, one goal,” added Hazard, after seeing a stray pass from Andreas Christensen allow Andres Iniesta to tee up Lionel Messi at Stamford Bridge.
“We should have scored more. We complicated it ourselves. A draw is a bad result.
“We won’t be able to think defensively in Barcelona. If we only think about defending, we’ll be in a lot of trouble. We will go to try to win. We have to win, we have to score.”