Belfast Telegraph

Chelsea boss Antonio Conte challenges Eden Hazard to exploit his talent

Eden Hazard has been challenged to keep making the difference for Chelsea to prove he is among the world's best.

Head coach Antonio Conte wants his playmaker to repeat his scintillating performance against Atletico Madrid when Manchester City visit on Saturday.

Hazard is expected to make his first Premier League start of the season against City in a "massive game".

"Eden, in every game, he finds a way to be decisive, to score or to make an assist for a team-mate. I love this," Conte said.

"If God gives you this talent, you must exploit this talent. My task is sometimes to try to push him to be decisive in every moment, in every game.

"This season has started for him with a big game against Atletico Madrid and now he has to show this season that he deserves to stay at the top with the best."

The 26-year-old Belgium forward made his second start of the season at Atletico, having been limited to three substitute appearances in the league after the broken ankle sustained in June.

Hazard's current contract, which expires in 2020, was signed in February 2015.

Conte declined to comment on reports Hazard is to be handed a new £300,000 per week deal, insisting it was a matter for the club.

As head coach, Conte's priority is improving his players.

He acknowledges Hazard's killer instinct can get better, but he wants the Belgian to continue to put the team first.

"If he scores one goal, he's happy and then, if there is another situation, he prefers to make an assist rather than scoring twice," Conte added.

"If (Ronaldo) scores once he wants two, three, four. It's the same for Messi.

"(But) I don't like selfish players, honestly. I like players who are used to thinking about the team, used to thinking about 'us', not 'me'.

"He's a player who loves to play football. I like this behaviour, his attitude.

"But, for sure, I like to repeat to him that in every game he must be decisive."

After Chelsea's win at Atletico, Conte said his side were being "penalised" by the proximity of the fixture with City, who beat Shakhtar Donetsk on Tuesday.

Conte says he will wait to assess his players for Chelsea's seventh match in 21 days, but hinted he was considering fielding the same team as in Madrid after a confidence-boosting result.

There is one enforced change, with Andreas Christensen set to replace David Luiz, who will complete a three-match suspension.

The Blues enter this weekend's fixtures trailing City by three points, their only defeat coming on the opening day to Burnley.

Conte has previously expressed his admiration for Pep Guardiola's approach and did so again.

Conte said: "I have great respect for Pep. I think he's the best."

City top scorer Sergio Aguero is absent following a car crash on his day off in Holland on Thursday.

Conte, who expressed sympathy for the situation, said: "When you have your day off, you must take your own responsibility to try to make the best decision for you, for the team, for the club."

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