Eden Hazard is “too good” for Chelsea and has “outgrown” the club, says BBC Sport pundit Jermaine Jenas.
The former Tottenham midfielder described Hazard as “unplayable” during Chelsea’s 1-0 defeat by Spurs at Wembley in the Carabao Cup semi-final.
The Belgium midfielder, whose contract expires in June 2020, has been linked with a summer move to Real Madrid.
And Jenas believes Hazard, 28, must now move from Chelsea to take the next step in his career.
“I thought he was unplayable at times,” said Jenas, on BBC Radio 5 live’s Football Daily podcast.
“I actually said [in commentary] that I think he is too good for Chelsea.
“Chelsea are obviously a top, top side but I think he has outgrown them. I think he has outgrown his position within that team.
“He needs to move on. He is above a level of everybody else that is around him.”
Hazard has won two Premier League titles in seven seasons at Chelsea, as well as the Europa League, FA Cup and League Cup.
The Belgium playmaker also helped his country reach the World Cup semi-finals in Russia last year, where he won the Silver Ball as the tournament’s second best player behind Croatia’s Luka Modric.
Modric, 33, was at a similar stage in his career to Hazard when he left Tottenham for Real Madrid in 2012, and has since gone on to win the Champions League four times with the Spanish giants and claimed the 2018 Ballon d’Or.
Hazard, meanwhile, has kicked on since last summer’s World Cup, scoring 14 goals in 32 appearances for Chelsea in all competitions.
But despite the Blues starting well under new manager Maurizio Sarri, their title challenge has faltered – they are currently fourth in the Premier League, 10 points behind leaders Liverpool.
Problems in front of goal have not helped Chelsea’s cause, with strikers Alvaro Morata (five) and Olivier Giroud (one) both well short of Hazard’s 10 goals in the Premier League this season.
And Jenas believes the team’s failings could be holding Hazard back, with Sarri’s decision to play the Belgium midfielder as a lone striker against Tottenham a case in point.
“You’re definitely not getting the best out of Hazard [playing him through the middle],” said Jenas, after Chelsea failed to score despite enjoying 58% possession and having 17 shots on goal.
“You get the best out of him on the left, doing what he wants to do, dropping into midfield, breaking from deep, running at players. That’s how he scores a lot of his goals.
“Up top, with his back to goal, he is a lot easier to deal with. He is still a danger but he is much easier to handle.
“From the team’s perspective, they don’t react well to him playing through the middle because they don’t respond to the positions he takes up.