Eden Hazard has had a great season for Chelsea. He won the league title with the club and was rightly awarded the PFA player of the year award for his excellent performance throughout the season.
The young winger is currently with the Belgian national squad that will face France in their upcoming match. Ahead of the match, he gave a long interview with L’Equipe where he spoke about his career ambitions, Jose Mourinho’s influence and reserved a little praise for PSG midfielder Marco Verratti, who is a reported target of Manchester United and other European heavy weight clubs.
Reports emerged yesterday that Real Madrid had offered €50m for Verratti, although the club moved in quickly to dismiss such rumours.
Verratti recently praised Hazard and claimed him as one of the three best players in the world. Hazard returned the compliment by saying the 22-year-old will be a great player in future.
Hazard said: “It’s because he couldn’t take the ball off me and had to foul me a lot. (laughs) Seriously though, I’m happy to hear that. Marco is still young (22yo). He’s going to become a great, great player at his position. We’ve faced PSG two years in a row, I’ve seen his progress.”
Other Q/A from the interview:
Q: How did playing in England transform you?
Hazard: Here football is what people think about. Everyone supports a club and in your social life, you’re going to talk about football a lot. Even being as relaxed as in France, you know you must win for the club and to make the fans happy. And then there’s my price tag (40m), which increases the pressure. But I’ve always dealt well with the pressure.
Q: How do you convince a Rudi Garcia, Marc Wilmots or José Mourinho to give you the freedom to express your own football vision (on the pitch)?
Hazard: It’s a daily work. You work as hard as you can, you perform well… and a relationship of trust is built. I must say though that at Cheslea sometimes the manager isn’t happy. He doesn’t show it, but he tells me if needed. We trust each other and that shows on the pitch.
Q: But Mourinho shows it sometimes… do you remember what happened after the Champions League semis vs Atlético Madrid last year?
Hazard: He did indeed express himself in the media (“Hazard isn’t willing to sacrifice himself 100% for the team). I didn’t take it the wrong way. It allowed me to progress as a player. I had the impression that I had played a good match. I was maybe a bit at fault for two of the goals we conceded but aside from that I did well. I forgot all about it quickly.
Q: What do you need to do to become a credible Ballon d’Or candidate?
Hazard: It’s always been my dream. When I arrived at Lille’s training camp, I told my mentor – Jean-Michel Vandamme – that I’d win the Ballon d’Or one day. When I was little, that was all I ever thought about. The more I progress as a player, the more I tell myself that it’s possible. Unfortunately, there are two football aliens playing at the moment and it will be very tough to beat them. But that’s what I’m working for.