October 19, 2018 / 3:26 PM / in a month

Soccer: Sarri backs Hazard to become world's best at Chelsea

(Reuters) - Chelsea forward Eden Hazard has the potential to become the world’s best player while still representing the Premier League club, manager Maurizio Sarri said on Friday.

Soccer Football - Premier League - Chelsea - Maurizio Sarri Press Conference - Chelsea FC Training Ground, Stoke d’Abernon, Britain - October 19, 2018 Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri during the press conference. Action Images via Reuters/Matthew Childs

The in-form Hazard had suggested this month that he may need to join a Spanish club in order to win the Ballon d’Or, which is awarded every year to the world’s best player.

The Belgium international, who has a contract with Chelsea until 2020, has also stated his desire to play for Spanish giants Real Madrid.

“Eden is a fantastic player. It’ll be important for us if he will remain. He can win everything, also the Ballon d’Or, here without playing in Spain,” Sarri told a news conference before Saturday’s Premier League clash with Manchester United.

“Chelsea will be able to win the Champions League, Belgium will be able to win the European Cup... I only saw him yesterday, but I want to tell him (that) very soon.”

Chelsea have made a strong start to the campaign under new manager Sarri, winning six out of eight games and drawing the other two to sit second in the table behind leaders Manchester City on goal difference.

They come up against former manager Jose Mourinho, who has endured a testing time with United this season having lost three times to lie in eighth spot.

“We are talking about a coach who has won everything. He has won everywhere. So I think that I have to respect him. But I think you also all have to respect him,” Sarri added.

United came from behind to seal a 3-2 win over Newcastle United with three late goals in their last match.

“They are a very strong team. Maybe player-by-player, they are the best team in the Premier League. At the moment I think City is better like a team. But player-by-player, they are really very strong.”

Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru, editing by Ed Osmond

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