(Reuters) - Midfielder Eden Hazard must continue to be decisive on the pitch and exploit the talent he is blessed with to become one of the game’s greats, Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has said.
The Belgian has made just three substitute appearances in the league since returning from an ankle fracture sustained on international duty in June but impressed in the Champions League clash with Atletico Madrid in midweek.
Conte, who could hand Hazard his first league start in the home game against Manchester City on Saturday, said the 26-year-old had a big chance to reiterate his importance to the team.
“In every game he finds a way to be decisive, to score or make an assist for his team mates, I love this about him and that’s what I ask of him,” Conte told the club’s website (www.chelseafc.com).
“We need a player with his talent and it’s important for a coach to ask him to be decisive. God gave him this talent and he must exploit it. It’s my job to push him to be decisive.”
The Italian said Hazard was different to attackers such as Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi, who were more relentless in their pursuit of goals.
“Sometimes with Eden, if he scores one goal he’s happy and if there is another situation he prefers to make an assist, not to score a second. With Ronaldo, he scores one goal and wants to score twice, three times, the same with Messi,” he said.
“I don’t think selfish is the right word because I don’t like selfish players. I like players who think for the team, not themselves,” he added.
“Eden is not selfish, he’s a player who loves to play football, he enjoys playing football. I like his behaviour and his attitude but in every game he must be decisive.”
With Chelsea back in the Champions League, Conte said Hazard also had the opportunity to test himself against the best.
“Eden is a top player and I think this season he has a big opportunity because we are playing in the Champions League and, together with the Premier League, it’s important to show you are a top player and you can compete to be the best.”
Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by John O'Brien