Eden Hazard has revealed that Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri always thought he could thrive as a central striker.

Chelsea boss Sarri has deployed Belgium star Hazard as a 'false nine' in recent weeks, ahead of natural target men Alvaro Morata and Olivier Giroud.

Hazard boasted a Premier League-high direct hand in 19 goals at the season's halfway stage, leaving Italian manager Sarri happy with the 27-year-old's more central role.

Hazard himself has continually insisted he prefers to play on the wing, but has again moved to insist he has a strong relationship with Sarri and will play wherever needed.

"Sarri told me before the season started that playing as a number nine could be an option," said Hazard.

"It is good not just to be a target man, but also as a false nine where I can move, I can drop, I can go deep, I can go on the wing.

"I like to change a lot, but we also have two great strikers. We will see. It depends on who is on the pitch.

"He's a good guy, he's from another generation because he's an older man, but he is close with the players.

"He is laughing a lot with us, and then when we are on the pitch we are working a lot also. It's not just fun."

Hazard has continued to stall on a new Chelsea contract, with his current deal expiring in 2020.

Real Madrid continue to monitor the 98-cap Belgium star's situation, and Hazard has insisted he will wait until the summer before resolving his long-term future.

Chelsea boss Sarri called on the club's board to "solve the problem" of Hazard's contract without delay, so that the Blues can plan for the future.

But Hazard himself maintains he is happy with life right now at Stamford Bridge.

"We do a lot of tactical work, and you can see on the pitch we have improved a lot from last year; we have adapted to the new system," said Hazard.

"We have brought new players. Jorginho is helping a lot, Kovacic, the new goalkeeper Kepa is already very good.

"Everything is going well. The manager is talking a lot to us which is good."

Chelsea will face Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park in Sunday's Premier League clash, aiming to build on the 2-1 St Stephen's Day win at Watford where Hazard passed a century of Blues goals with a smartly-taken brace.

Hazard has revealed that every time an opposing defender attempts to kick him out of action, he only grows stronger and more determined to conjure something special.

"Sometimes it's tough, for seven years I have got kicked all the time," Hazard told Chelsea's official club website.

"But now I take care of my ankles, my knees! We have one of the best medical departments in the world.

"I don't like to say I like it, but when people kick me it gives me a feeling that I am too good or they just want to stop me and they can't.

"That gives me extra power to do something magic."