Chelsea head coach Maurizio Sarri says Eden Hazard can be the best player in Europe – if he wants to be.
Hazard has often sparkled in six years at Chelsea, bringing comparisons with Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
The Belgium playmaker could make his first start of the season in Saturday’s Premier League clash with Arsenal and will be expected to do well after a strong showing at the World Cup.
Sarri said: “We are talking about one of the most important players in Europe now but, in my opinion, he can improve more. He can be the first.
“It depends on him. The best for technical skill, the best for scoring, but I think it depends only on him. On his mind.”
The 27-year-old is beginning his seventh season at Chelsea and has twice won the Premier League title. He hinted after helping Belgium finish third at Russia 2018 that he was ready for a new challenge.
Rumours of a switch to Real Madrid have been persistent and have grown as Hazard has two years remaining on his current contract and has been deliberating over the offer of an extension for some time.
The Spanish transfer window remains open until August 31, but Sarri has no doubts Hazard will be with Chelsea for the rest of the season, despite the absence of Champions League football after the Blues’ fifth-placed finish in last season’s Premier League.
“Of course, I was concerned about this problem,” Sarri added.
“The first time I have spoken to him, I was sure that he would stay. So I was concerned for 20 days, no more.
“I have spoken with him very often in the last 10 days. He has never said to me anything about this. I am sure Eden will be with us for this season.”