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Mourinho on Hazard: "I love to work with him. I love the kid"

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Paul Gilham

Eden Hazard might not be Chelsea's best player, but he's almost certainly our most talented. And that makes him fascinating: he's already excellent, but has room to grow into a regular match-winner from inside left, which would leave us with a very rare player indeed.

It's Jose Mourinho's job to get the most out of the 23-year-old, and, from the manager's long interview in the Telegraph, it's abundantly clear that he takes great pleasure (and more than a little bit of pride) in his work with Hazard. It's also very, very clear that he really like him on a personal level.

[H]e’s a fantastic kid. He is humble, very humble. Very nice. Very polite. Selfish – zero. Egocentric – zero. He is fantastic.

I had a conversation with his father. His father told me something that I loved. I don’t think it’s a problem to tell you. He said – ‘I have a wonderful son. He is a wonderful father. He is a wonderful husband. I want him to change, because I want him to be a wonderful player. But I don’t want him to change a lot. I don’t want him to become – and he used the name of two or three players. I just want him to be the same husband, the same father, the same son, with a little but more tenacity, mental aggression, ambition, personal ego. A little bit more. And you are the guy to give it to him.’

We can never transform these fantastic players and men into a competitive animal, a competitive machine. Not even his father wants [that]. We have just to bring him to a different level, working hard in training, which he’s doing.

It's interesting to see the difference between the manager's perspective on Hazard and the fans, who've long considered him a sort of mercenary after the extended transfer saga which brought him to Chelsea. Mourinho, who works with him every day, sees him as a grounded guy who needs to develop more ambition. I'd wager that Mourinho's version is more accurate. Also the conversation with Hazard's father sounds adorable.

Are the lessons taking? It certainly sounds like it:

[Hazard is] never afraid to play and take responsibility. But it’s not about that. It’s about him saying – today, I have to be decisive. What he says in that press interview, when he says ‘I’m not one of the five top players in the world’ – he can be, but he cannot be in a match where he doesn’t do something in the 90 minutes that makes him decisive. The week before against Arsenal, I was on him every day – be decisive. Don’t be happy with doing nice things. Don’t be happy being up and down in the game. You have to do something in the game that wins the game for us. And he did. This is the point with Eden. The talent is amazing, and the human side of him – especially in the modern days, because I work with top players for 30 years – he is not from these times. He’s from the old times.

And what of the criticisms of Hazard's defensive game that came to the fore at the end of last season? Mourinho clearly thinks his comments after the loss to Atlético Madrid were overblown:

I had some guys in my career – they didn’t want to [defend]. You try to build something behind them to protect. His [Hazard’s] problem is not that. He wants. The only problem is to be focused during the 90 minutes and understand when he has to, and when he doesn’t have to. I always say to him – you look to the situation. Sometimes you don’t need to [track back]. And you have to learn to read the game to know when you don’t have to. For example, if Matic is completely closed on the left side, and just behind him, I don’t want him to come. I want Matic to cope with the situation. I love to work with him. I love the kid. He will always have my support. He knows my nature. Our relationship is at a point where I can tell him anything. He knows I like him a lot. We are fine because of that.

This makes me really happy you guys.