Mourinho: Hazard could be the next Messi or Ronaldo
Jose Mourinho isn't afraid to say things that grab headlines. The Portuguese manager is known for being outspoken but his latest big statement has certainly captured the attention of football fans around the world.
Before Chelsea's match against West Ham at Stamford Bridge this evening, Mourinho was asked about Eden Hazard. The Belgian star has enjoyed a fantastic season under his new boss in London, and at 23 years old, he's still young enough to continue improving.
Premier League defenders have found it incredibly difficult to stop the gifted winger who is technical, strong, quick, and able to both score and create goals. Alongside the likes of Oscar and Willian, Hazard helps make up one of the most dynamic and attack-minded midfields in the Premier League.
With the recent Ballon d'Or awards now behind us and Cristiano Ronaldo winning the prestigious trophy for the second time of his career, many fans have asked if both Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have hit their peak or if they are continuing to improve. While Franck Ribery and Lionel Messi both joined the talented Portuguese as a nominee for the award, another man on the shortlist was Eden Hazard.
Hazard's reaction to the results were nowhere near anger or disappointment. His teammates awarded him a wooden ball - the "Ballon de bois" as a joke with all their signatures to celebrate his nomination to the shortlist.
It might not be too long before he trades in his wooden ball for a proper gold one, though. When asked about Hazard's limit and if he could possibly achieve the levels of Ronaldo and Messi eventually, Mourinho was frank.
“Now, I say yes. Now, I say yes, because his evolution is great," Mourinho said. (via The Telegraph)
“Eden was much easier than I thought. If it was easier than I thought, it’s his responsibility, not mine. What I did was normal. The way he reacted was not normal. It was fantastic.”
Having managed Ronaldo at Real Madrid for three of the years that the Portuguese failed to secure the Ballon d'Or because of Messi, Mourinho said, "If he [Hazard] wants the Ballon d’Or, he must build the entourage politically for that.
“It’s a different story if he wants to be a great, great player and arrive where Cristiano and Messi arrive. He has the space to go – he’s 23, and Cristiano is 28 or 29, Messi 26 or 27. Still young players, but four or five years older than Eden. So he has space for evolution. I think there’s a great ambition for him.”
Hazard has certainly been massively influential to his Chelsea side since arriving from France last year. At 23 years old, he continues to impress on a weekly basis and seemingly gets better at what he does. Like Ronaldo, he's able to come inside on his right foot or beat defenders down the flank to get crosses in. Like Messi, he's able to shift his weight quickly, dribble past defenders, and score goals from all over the final third.
Can Hazard become as good as Messi and Ronaldo? Ronaldo turns 29 year this year and Lionel Messi turns 27. By no means are the pair getting old, but at just 23, Hazard could potentially be the player that steps up next to carry the flame as the world's best player .