Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho is worried that Eden Hazard may be held back by English footballing culture, reports The Sun.
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However, the 53-year-old still believes that the Belgian international will one day be as good as Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
The 24-year-old has scored 18 goals and created another 10 in 48 appearances this season, which is still some way behind the La Liga duo. The Barcelona star has netted 49 times and has 19 assists in one more game, while the Real Madrid ace has 48 and 18 in 45 appearances.
Hazard has been key as the Blues have run away with the Premier League title in this campaign, needing only one more win to be confirmed as champions with three games to spare. They could do this at Stamford Bridge against Crystal Palace on Sunday.
Mourinho said: “After Cristiano and Messi, Hazard will be next. I don’t see anyone else. You can see the potential, the evolution and the way he’s been holding on to his profile as a person. The world still hasn’t reached him. He’s still a humble kid, a team player, nice and with a family life.
“But I also believe that, behind phenomenal players like Ronaldo or Messi, there’s something close to an organized campaign. And Hazard doesn’t have it. It’s a 24-year-old boy, who plays in a club where there isn’t a culture of ‘best in the world’. He plays in a country where it doesn’t exist.”
The Portuguese continued: “England has football concepts highly developed. Maybe it’s one of the few countries where clubs would rather win the league than the Champions League. Here, for instance, we believe it’s harder to be a forward. I mean, nobody works to be the best in the world. Hazard just signed for five or six seasons.
“If he was in another country, they would grab him, put him next to Ronaldo and Messi, wait for them to be 33, 34 and 31, 32, and Hazard would be next. In this culture, I have my doubts.”
The winger will need to at his best come next season if he wants to live up to his manager’s hype as well as help keep the title at Stamford Bridge.