The Blues defender has called on his club to replace their talisman internally as a rising star battles to return to full fitness. David Luiz thinks that Eden Hazard is irreplaceable in the short term but has hope that Callum Hudson-Odoi is good enough to become Chelsea’s next superstar.
“I think it’s goodbye, time for a new challenge,” Hazard said following the final whistle after Chelsea claimed a 4-1 Europa League final victory over rivals Arsenal in Baku.
Hazard was pivotal in the win, netting two goals and an assist in what is likely to be his final game before a move to Real Madrid for more than £100 million ($126m) this summer.
Luiz thinks his long-standing team-mate will be tough to replace but has called on Chelsea to put their faith in Hudson-Odoi as his successor.
“That’s either Messi or Ronaldo [who can replace Hazard],” Luiz told reporters at Baku Olympic Stadium. “I think if he goes I just wish him all the best. He is a fantastic player, friend and guy.
“I’ve known him ever since he was so young here. I am so happy for him because the world knows who Eden Hazard is. It is part of life. Some cycles finish, some cycles start. I think we have many, many talents within the club who can replace him.
“Callum [Hudson-Odoi] is great. Callum has known this club since he was young and he has the talents to one day try to be like Eden. It didn’t start so well because of the injury but it is time for him to improve in other sides [of his game].”
Meanwhile, the match could also be Maurizio Sarri’s last for the Blues, with the Italian having revitalised Luiz’s career after a tough spell with injury and working under Antonio Conte last season.
The 32-year-old earned a two-year contract a fortnight ago after becoming a regular starter again under his latest boss.
However, despite his manager delivering glory, his future remains in doubt. The 60-year-old is a major target of Juventus, who would need to pay just £5m ($6m) to buy him out of his contract.
Luiz is clear that he wants Sarri to remain in west London.
“He is a great person, a great guy, a great manager and we finished in the best way for him because we won a trophy in his way,” Luiz added. “Even after we conceded a goal at 3-1 we continued to play his philosophy and continued to try and score more goals.
“It was the best end of the season for him and he deserved that. Yes [I want him to stay], because he is doing great. He did great during the season even with all the difficulties we had. In life sometimes you have to try to understand who is on the other side.
“Sometimes you need to reflect and analyse a little bit how difficult it was for him to be here today. He trained many, many clubs in the lower divisions. He was doing one job (banker) and then he quit to try a big journey and do something in football.
“Today he arrived in a big final and to do great like that, of course, there is going to be emotion. He deserved that, it was a fantastic season for him. I think he is doing great. It is for the club to decide that. I am so happy with him.”
Sarri will now have end-of-season talks to decide what happens next after his first piece of major silverware as a manager.