Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has said that he wants star man Eden Hazard to develop more of a killer instinct on the pitch, but not at the expense of his ‘humble’ character.
Signed from Lille in June 2012 for a reported £32 million fee, Hazard experienced a solid first season at Stamford Bridge under former boss Ande Villas-Boas but has gone on to excel since the return of Mourinho for his second spell at the club the following summer.
Scoring 17 goals in 49 total appearances last season, the Belgian international has become Mourinho’s own personal project over the past 16 months, and is now being challenged to take his game to another level.
Talking to Gary Neville for the Telegraph, the Portuguese tactician admitted, however, that he has had to give reassurances to Hazard's father, who is scared of his son becoming a prima donna like other top stars have done in the past.
‘I had a conversation with his father. His father told me something that I loved. I don’t think it’s a problem to tell you. He said – “I have a wonderful son. He is a wonderful father. He is a wonderful husband. I want him to change, because I want him to be a wonderful player. But I don’t want him to change a lot. I don’t want him to become – and he used the name of two or three players. I just want him to be the same husband, the same father, the same son, with a little but more tenacity, mental aggression, ambition, personal ego. A little bit more. And you are the guy to give it to him.”
‘We can never transform these fantastic players and men into a competitive animal, a competitive machine. Not even his father wants [that]. We have just to bring him to a different level, working hard in training, which he’s doing.’
The grounded Hazard confessed this week that he doesn’t consider himself to be one of the top five players in the world, despite continuing to set the Premier League alight, but Mourinho insists that he has the talent to match his rivals with a bit more focus and decisiveness.
‘He’s never afraid to play and take responsibility,’ he said. ‘But it’s not about that. It’s about him saying – today, I have to be decisive. What he says in that press interview, when he says “I’m not one of the five top players in the world” – he can be, but he cannot be in a match where he doesn’t do something in the 90 minutes that makes him decisive.
‘The talent is amazing, and the human side of him – especially in the modern days, because I work with top players for 30 years – he is not from these times. He’s from the old times.
‘I love the kid. He will always have my support. He knows my nature. Our relationship is at a point where I can tell him anything. He knows I like him a lot. We are fine because of that.’