Eden Hazard believes Chelsea have the strength in depth to challenge for trophies in England and Europe despite doubts surrounding their summer transfer business.
A handful of Chelsea’s key targets – including Romlelu Lukaku and Fernando Llorente – decided to join rival teams over a move to the reigning Premier League champions.
However, Chelsea star man Hazard is confident his side can launch a serious title challenge as well as compete with Europe’s top sides in the Champions League.
Hazard revealed all about Chelsea, Antonio Conte and more during a Q&A with Nike during the unveiling of his new Nike Mercurial Ultra Flyknit Vapor.
Chelsea are competing in the Champions League this year. Will it be more difficult in the Premier League because of this and where will be the main focus, on the Champions League or Premier League?
I think this year will be no different from the previous years, in the sense that every year it is difficult – especially when you play in many competitions. This year we have the Champions League as well and it is not easy to succeed in multiple competitions. But we will do our best and we have got depth in our squad so sometimes maybe one or two players can rest so they are 110 per cent for the next competition. We just want to win as many trophies as possible, for me personally I haven’t won the Champions League so maybe that one would be a little bit more special, but I would prefer us to win everything.
Who will be the main rival for Chelsea in the Premier League title fight?
It’s not just one team, I think all of the teams have got really good players: Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool, Man City and good managers as well. So we will see…
What kind of character is Antonio Conte, he seems to be a big personality?
Haha, well you can see this during a game when we play. You know on the bench, he has got a lot of energy moving along the sidelines and shouting instructions, but I think we need this personality in the squad to win football games. I think we have got one of the best managers in the world. So we are really happy with him.
How is your relationship with Antonio Conte?
I have a good relationship with all my managers. You know we train every day together and we can talk together and laugh together. So yes absolutely we have a good relationship, I wouldn’t say “friends” because it is difficult to be friends with your manager so I wouldn’t say that but we have a good relationship.
Is it more difficult to win back-to-back titles in England, the Champions League or the World Cup with Belgium?
I don’t know, maybe the World Cup with Belgium is the most difficult one. We haven’t won anything before, so it would be the first time and maybe that’s why it is more difficult. However, we have got a good team and a good manager with some interesting young players so everything is possible. But all the trophies are difficult to win you know, it is not just about one game – you have to win a lot of games and everything needs to come together, so we will see but I will do my best.
If Neymar cost €222m, what is Eden Hazard’s value right now?
€1billion!… Hahaha (laughs) – no I am just kidding. No not one billion. Neymar is a top player, he is Brazilian. I haven’t got an answer for that one.
Every summer there is a lot of speculation around transfers of course. How is it for a player to hear himself in rumours or maybe hearing rumours about team-mates?
You know I’ve been playing for 10 years now and every summer it is the same story. You read that this player can go here or there and in the end nothing happens. It is part of the job, it is part of football now and the newspapers need to write about it but for me as a player I just focus on my training and I focus on my game, that is the most important thing, and then if something happens it happens.
What are your individual goals?
Now the most important thing for me is just to recover, so I can get back in the squad and go out on the pitch to play. My goal is just to play football and to enjoy myself in front of the fans. You know I just want to recover from my injury, it is too bad I missed the first games, but when I am back I just want to be playing at Stamford Bridge and having fun.
A few years ago the Premier League title was more or less a showdown between Chelsea and Manchester United and before that Arsenal versus Manchester United. Now the competition seems much more fierce with even Leicester winning the title. What happened to the Premier League in the last few seasons?
Yes, I think 10 years ago it was one, two teams that were really good but now we have seven, eight strong teams who have got top players and anyone can beat anyone. Even a smaller club, and I say a “small club” but they are not small clubs any more, can beat the champions and can beat the top teams so every game is important. That’s why the Premier League is a really difficult league to win and perhaps the most interesting league in the world to follow.
Can you name a top three (or more) memory list of career highlights?
Hmm… I have a lot of good memories, but if I need to chose one, two, three… I think I’d say the Euros with Belgium. Unfortunately we didn’t go all the way and we lost to Wales, but we played a good Euros so overall that experience that is a good memory. Also my first game with Lille as a professional is a good memory and of course my first game with Chelsea is something I will never forget. Those are three great memories.
Now when you’re playing under the bright lights of Stamford Bridge, do you ever dream back to those simpler pitches, or to your childhood pitch?
Yes I do, or I imagine that I am playing back home. This is just how I play, every game I try to play like this. You know I remember that time when I was playing with my brothers and all my family. So then when I go out playing in front of a big crowd maybe at Stamford Bridge or somewhere else, I try to do the same; to play like I play in the garden with my friends and my brothers.
How does Eden Hazard play in his garden with friends. What is that style of play?
Hmm, you know when I’m on the pitch I don’t think a lot. I just play, I just play with freedom, you know? I try to do my best. I just try to enjoy myself on the pitch for myself but also for all the people watching the game. All the fans buy tickets to watch something great and I try to do something great on the pitch.
When you are back out on the pitch you are going to debut the Mercurial Ultra Flyknit. Can you tell us what you thought of the first time you saw these boots?
I thought “wow”. I said “wow” because I think they look great and they are perfect for my style of football. My way to play is to try and do something special and I think these boots are special. When you play football you just want to have your own boots so I am very proud to be debuting these and I think this can be great season for both me and the boots. I want to win many trophies and maybe even the Ballon d’Or. That would be great.