Maurizio Sarri has told Eden Hazard he can score 40 goals a season — if he stays out of his own half.
The Chelsea boss held a tactical talk with the midfielder before Saturday’s demolition of Cardiff, in which Hazard scored his first hat-trick for more than four years to send the Blues top.
And Sarri claimed Hazard is the best player in Europe as part of his charm offensive to keep the £200million-rated star happy at the club.
Sarri said: “I thought Hazard was one of the best players in Europe but now I am changing my mind that he is the best.
“I told him for me he can score 40 goals but to spend less energy far from the goal and play in the last 25 metres.”
Both Harry Kane and Mo Salah scored 40-plus goals last season.
And Hazard’s heroics helped make Sarri one of just four managers to win their first five Premier League games, alongside Pep Guardiola, Carlo Ancelotti and Craig Shakespeare.
Sarri’s cavalier approach to Hazard is in contrast to predecessors Antonio Conte and Jose Mourinho, who demanded more defending from him.
It is all designed to give the Belgian freedom — and stop him being lured away by Real Madrid.
Hazard, 27, said: “I am fresh, I took three weeks off after the World Cup. For me it was enough.
“At the moment we are doing well so it is a pleasure to play.
“We have confidence. We need to keep this momentum.
“We have a lot of freedom on the pitch.
“Hat-tricks come with confidence so I will try to do more of this.”