Chelsea midfielder Eden Hazard claimed he wants to compete with Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo for the tag of the best player in the world.
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Hazard has been in sparkling form for Chelsea this season and he has set himself some ambitious targets in an interview published in Belgian newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws.
“Of course I want to be the best in the world,” he said during an interview that has been translated in several English newspapers.
“Previously I was more worried about the game itself: football was just a game for me, I wanted to amuse myself and didn’t bother what the people thought about me.
“Since I’m here at Chelsea, I’ve become more aware of my qualities, I guess. Before I knew I was a good player, but not one of the better players in the world.
“Now I realise that I can compete with Messi and Ronaldo in the near future, if I put in some more effort. I don’t know if I will ever reach their level. It’ll be hard, they have incredible stats, but I accept the challenge.”
Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho has lavished praise on Hazard in recent weeks and has suggested his improved form and consistency is down to the midfielder’s maturity, which are comments echoed by the 23-year-old.
“I agree, I’ve matured,” stated Hazard. “On the pitch, I haven’t changed much. I’m still the same, but I realised that, if I want to be among the best in the world, I’ll have to perform consistently, game in, game out.
“I’m now important for the team, I give good passes, I score more goals and Chelsea is performing well.
“Everyone expects more from me. I hear it every day. Maybe I need these little comments, too. When a manager always says ‘Eden, you’re doing great’, there is a threat that you can snooze.
“As a professional, you have to challenge yourself every day. Put yourself in front of a mirror. The manager is close to his players, but when he has something to say, he does to your face, in a friendly way. And he knows how to challenge his players.
“At Lille, I sometimes played on a high level too, but I was more focused on the beauty of the game and how I could entertain the audience. I still try to do that, but I’ve become more efficient now and have become a real team player.
“I have the image of someone who doesn’t care. I’ve been playing professional football for five seasons now, I rarely was injured, I follow a strict diet, I sleep well, I rest and I’m always on time. No-one can ever accuse me of not living for my job, because I do.”
Hazard went on to suggest Chelsea need to win ‘one or two major trophies’ this season, as they continue to target success in the Champions League, Premier League and FA Cup.