Belfast Telegraph

Mourinho wants more from Hazard

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has called on Eden Hazard to prove his talent as one of the greatest players of his generation.

The Blues boss expects the Belgian playmaker, signed for a reported £32million from Lille in 2012, to agree a new contract despite having three years to run on his existing deal, as a reward for his ever-increasing influence at Stamford Bridge.

Mourinho was at times critical of Hazard last season, perhaps because he felt the forward was capable of so much more.

"His talent allows him to think about going from a top player to become one of the greats of his generation," said Mourinho, speaking on the eve of the Champions League Group G opener with Schalke.

"We are very proud that he thinks Chelsea is the perfect environment for him to have that evolution.

"That's why he wants to commit to us and we want to commit to him for the future too.

"It will be a question of time, but it will end with a new contract."

Hazard, who has continually been linked with Paris St Germain, now wears the number 10 shirt vacated by Juan Mata last January and previously worn by his idol Zinedine Zidane.

Mourinho joked Hazard does not have the stature of Zidane - at 1.85 metres the Frenchman is 12 centimetres taller than the Belgian - but it is clear the self-proclaimed 'Special One' believes he can realise his potential.

While insisting he "doesn't care" personally about shirt numbers, he admired Hazard's intentions, adding: " To have that ambition is good. I like that."

Mourinho was critical of a Hazard defensive lapse which contributed to Chelsea's semi-final exit to Atletico Madrid last term, saying "I'm not happy. I speak all season and I try to improve him all season."

And in presenting Hazard with Chelsea's 2013-14 player of the year award in May, Mourinho told him: "Next season we want more from you."

The Portuguese said: "We are feeling day by day his motivation to work hard and to improve.

"He's a kid that was always leaning on his natural talent, which is amazing, and from a certain moment he was starting to have some tactical education, mental education. It's clear the improvement.

"It was a big evolution from the Eden I met in Thailand (in July 2013), where we started pre-season, and the Eden that ended the season. This season, even more."

If Hazard's individual aspirations are lofty, so too are Mourinho's, with the possibility he could become the first manager to lift the European Cup with three clubs.

He denied the quest to follow his 2004 win with Porto and 2010 success with Inter Milan is an "obsession".

"To win with three clubs is unique," Mourinho said.

"But it's far from being an obsession and it's not something that I think about a lot.

"Even if I don't do it, how many top managers in the world have only one or even not a single one?

"The greatest in our country (Sir Alex Ferguson), he won it twice.

"Do I want to try to win it again? Of course. But in this moment I only think about 'don't play Europa League'.

"We have a championship of six matches and three opponents (in Group G) and we have to do everything to qualify."

Chelsea twice beat Schalke 3-0 last season en route to the last four and have begun the Premier League season in scintillating style, with four wins from four games.

"We are far from perfection," added Mourinho, who has a fully-fit squad after Didier Drogba shrugged off an ankle knock.

"We did well (last season). I know that it's difficult to do better, but we feel we've got the conditions to try to do better. We've got a better team, a better group."

Petr Cech has been displaced as first-choice goalkeeper by Thibaut Courtois, but specific competitions have not been designated for the goalkeepers.

"Don't be surprised if (Cech) plays a Champions League game or a Premier League game, or if Courtois plays a Capital One Cup game," Mourinho said.

"Petr is more than ready to play every game. He will play a lot, that's for sure."

Schalke lost 4-1 to Borussia Monchengladbach in the Bundesliga last weekend and have a host of injury problems.

Mourinho is cautious nonetheless, after his side lost their opening home match to Basle last term.

He said: "I don't see a relation between the fact they lost the last match. Probably it makes them stronger.

"They will discuss the mistakes they made. For sure they will be a better team and a difficult opponent."

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