Football

Hazard can be world's best: Mourinho

PHOTO: AFP

Jose Mourinho has tipped Eden Hazard to become the world's top player after the Chelsea forward signed a new five-and-a-half-year contract on Thursday.

Since joining the Blues in 2012, the Belgium international (above) has made 147 appearances and scored 43 goals for them.

He won the PFA Young Player of the Year and Chelsea's Player of the Year awards at the end of last season, having finished with 17 goals in all competitions.

Chelsea manager Mourinho had criticised Hazard in May last year, claiming "he is not the kind of player ready to sacrifice himself 100 per cent for the team".

The 24-year-old appears, however, to have earned the trust of his manager, having started in every league match this season.

"I am very happy that Eden has signed a new contract," Mourinho said. "It shows he believes in the club's coaching staff and players to help him become the best player in the world.

TOP HAZARD

"He is already a top player and his evolution has been fantastic. He is still very young and he can become the best."

Hazard won the Europa League in his first season at Stamford Bridge and also helped Belgium reach the World Cup quarter-finals last summer.

Hazard, who has bagged 13 goals in 36 appearances this term, said Mourinho has helped him improve a lot and insists he can also take criticism.

He said: "Even in the bad moments he has been with me, we can speak honestly with each other.

"If I have played well, he tells me, but if I haven't played so well, he also lets me know... He gives me the freedom to play and I just try to do my best."

Hazard is targeting an explosive finale, with "20 or 25 goals" as he eyes silverware with the Blues, starting with the League Cup on March 1. 
- PA Sport.