We've asked you who you'd like to see drawn with Chelsea in the Champions League Quarter Final, but Eden Hazard may have his own preference. That preference seems to be in line with his manager's desire to test his squad against the very best in Europe. In this article in the Telegraph, he states his desire to share the pitch with the very best players in the world, in the form of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, saying:
"For me, for a young player, it’s very important to test myself against Ronaldo or Messi. Just to be on the pitch with them would be good and I would try to do well.
"It’s an aspiration for me to be as good as Ronaldo and Messi. I watch a lot of games they play in and I try to be on the same level."
To me, that shows just how well Jose Mourinho has been doing to get a player formerly-known for his less-than-perfect work ethic going. This season, Hazard has become a much more motivated player, becoming not only Chelsea's best and most-important player, but one who is never satisfied with his current level. If he can maintain that attitude in the coming years and put it into practice, Chelsea fans are going to be awfully-glad he's being used for our side, rather than against it. He goes further, saying:
"Of course, I want to be the best in the world. Previously I was more worried about the game itself – football was just a game for me, I wanted to amuse myself and didn’t bother what the people thought about me. But since I’m here at Chelsea I’ve become more aware of my qualities.
"Before I knew I was a good player, but not one of the better players in the world. Now I realise that I can compete with Messi and Ronaldo in the near future, if I put in some more effort. I don’t know if I will ever reach their level. It’ll be hard, but I accept the challenge."
What, in his opinion, is the most-important part of that challenge and the focus of that effort? His scoring:
"I want to score more because sometimes I play good, like against Galatasaray, but I don’t score. To be the best player in the world, I have to score more.
"I think it’s just in my head. I have to shoot more sometimes. I can make the pass, I can shoot and sometimes I make the pass, but I work on that."
In recent weeks, since his excellent hat-trick against Newcastle, Hazard has been guilty of being arguably too-willing to find a team-mate in the final third, at the expense of personal glory. If he can get over this particular mental block and learn to take the shot, he definitely has the ability to become a Messi-like menace, charging past defenders and goalkeepers everywhere, causing them to wet themselves a little in fright.
This season is probably too early for that kind of demonic impact or to single-handedly deliver the European Cup back to London, but he's not letting the improbability of the feat stop him from trying:
"A big club wants every year to win the Champions League. Last year was Europa League and this season we want these [big] trophies. This is the first time I have reached this level in the Champions League. I’m happy. I enjoy this moment.
"The Champions League is maybe the biggest tournament in the world, so, yes, it is difficult, but it is good to be part of the late stages in my second season at Chelsea.
"We’ll see where we end up in the next round. We want to get as far as possible. There are better teams than us in the last eight, but we’ll try to make the best out of it."
Whether or not the Belgian HellStorm™ can make it happen probably does depend on the calibre of our opponents to come, but Jose Mourinho will have a plan for handling any of them while allowing his charges to shine. After all, Chelsea managed a very creditable loss and a draw with an embyronic version of the current squad against Real Madrid and Bayern Munich in preseason matches where both were hell-bent for revenge, against manager and club, respectively.
No matter the opponent or plan, Eden Hazard will be a major part of it, and will be given a prime chance to show he deserves to walk the rarefied halls of the true footballing greats. We can also be sure he'll be giving 100% when he does. Not least because, as he says of Jose Mourinho:
"[H]e knows how to challenge his players."