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Sport

Hazard relishing chance to go up against Mourinho

LAUSANNE (Reuters) - Eden Hazard said he was 99 percent sure to stay at Chelsea next season, and he relishing a chance to go up against new Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho.

Football Soccer - UEFA European Championship 2016 - Belgium news conference - Lausanne, Switzerland - 27/05/16. Belgium's player Eden Hazard. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

The Belgian international, who will captain his country at the European Championship in France next month, had been the subject of transfer speculation throughout a disappointing club season.

“If I tell you I’m staying at Chelsea with 100 percent certainty, this is not the case,” Hazard told a press conference in Switzerland on Friday, a day before Belgium play Switzerland in a warm-up international in Geneva. “For now, I’m 100 percent sure I’ll compete at the Euros. After, I will think of Chelsea.

“But I want to finish well at the club. So like Thibaut (Courtois), I will be at Chelsea 99 percent next season.

“We all know my season. I will not repeat, it was bad. But now it’s over and I’m focussing for the Euro.

“The last game where I gave everything was against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League. After that I was injured. And this is where the season has just ended for Chelsea.

“So I took my time to get back to fitness. I will attack the challenge of the European Championship in full possession of my faculties.”

Hazard’s indifferent form mirrored a disastrous season for Chelsea, which saw Mourinho sacked before the end of the year.

“He is a fantastic manager. I wish him good luck. I would really want to play against his team,” was his reaction to Mourinho’s appointment to the Man Utd job on Friday.

As for his new responsibilities as captain in place of injured Vincent Kompany, Hazard said he wanted to lead by example.

“I tell myself that I have to represent my country in the best possible way, by being an example on the field to younger players, with or without ball. I want to show everyone that I can do that. Occasionally, I will speak, but I’d rather lead by example.”

Belgium are among the Euro-2016 favourites but have a tough opening group, paired with Italy, the Republic of Ireland and Sweden.

Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by Larry King

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