Eden Hazard has been discussing his position in the pantheon of world football with The Telegraph in light of a superb start to the 2014/15 campaign.
As yet Hazard still sees himself as inferior to an elite quintet of Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery, whom he seeks to emulate by being “decisive in the top games”, saying:
“I’m not a top-five player yet,”
“Maybe I’m close to it, but I still have to work on some aspects.”
But what facets does Hazard, 11/5 to win the Ballon d’Or by 2018, need to work upon?
The former Lille player has been most often criticised for his lack of defensive input, a failing highlighted by Jose Mourinho in the aftermath of Chelsea’s Champions League loss to Atletico Madrid last season.
However, rather than become a more diligent team player, Hazard must embrace his selfishness if he is to emulate the feted quintet, none of whom are exactly famed for their application when the enemy have the ball.
He was Chelsea’s top scorer last term with 17 goals in 49 appearances, yet there remains the sense that there is still much to work upon with his goalscoring.
Taking the Blues’ penalties is a good start, highlighting the necessary hunger for the net.
Meanwhile abdicating his throne atop their assists chart for Cesc Fabregas should further free him to play with more directness, a characteristic which Messi, Ronaldo, Ibra, Ribery and Robben all embody.
In real terms this would see the Belgian change tack when it comes to where to unleash his hypnotic dribbling ability.
All too often Hazard’s ultimate objective when he begins another elusive run is to reach the byline, with the aim of serving up delicacies for his centre-forward or onrushing midfielders.
Instead he must consider finding the onion bag as his aim each and every time he picks up the ball, using his trickery to beat players in central areas around the 18-yard box and make chances to swell his own account.
Chelsea’s Messi, as teammate Fabregas called him earlier this season, is 13/10 to net against Crystal Palace this weekend.