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Eden Hazard is back, and so are the Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo comparisons

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Argentina v Belgium: Quarter Final - 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

If there is one story that has followed Eden Hazard around more incessantly than the Real Madrid transfer rumors, it’s the comparison with Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. The two undisputed best players in the world over the last decade have set an impossible standard of goals, awards, and individual excellence, next to which all others pale in comparison. And frankly, I’m quite tired of all this talk resurfacing every time Hazard has a great game. But your mileage may vary, plus we know that Antonio Conte is always urging further improvement in all his players, and when it comes to Eden, there really is only one step left above him.

"Yes, he can improve. At Atletico, he was important because he put the ball in for Alvaro to score our goal... It's very important that he is important in every game for us, to make chances, to score or to provide assists for our players. Very important."

Hazard has spoken many times about being just as happy with a goal as with an assist, and we saw that quite clearly in action recently when he passed up glorious chances to set up others, mostly Michy Batshuayi. Tellingly, Hazard once also let his guard down in an interview and claimed that he really is quite happy if the team doesn’t run up the score, which will also limit his opportunities in front of goal. Meanwhile, many coaches, including Mourinho and Conte, have urged the kid to become more of a “killer”. But maybe we should just accept him for the happy-go-lucky, fun-loving, carefree kid-at-heart that he is. Cristiano’s a robot and Messi’s an alien — let Hazard be human.

“If he scores one goal, he's happy and then, if there is another situation, he prefers to make an assist rather than scoring twice. I see, for Ronaldo, that if he scores once he wants two, three, four. It's the same for Messi.”

That said, Hazard still manages to play a decisive role in the team’s performance more often than not. And he manages to do so while having as much fun as he can squeeze out of the game.

“Yeah [he should be more ruthless] but Eden, in every game, finds a way to be decisive during a game. I love this from him. I ask this of him. If God gives you this talent, you must exploit this talent. My task is sometimes to try and push him to be decisive in every moment, in every game.”

"Eden for sure is a top player. I think in this season he has a big opportunity. Because, this season we play in the Champions League. I think the Champions League, together with the Premier League, is important for a player to show you are a top player and can compete to be the best. This season is very important for Eden.”

-Antonio Conte; source: Evening Standard

Challenges from all corners coming at Eden. He responded magnificently on Wednesday. How ill he do today?

“I don’t think selfish is the right word because I don’t like selfish players. I like players who think for the team, not themselves. Eden is not selfish, he’s a player who loves to play football, he enjoys playing football. I like his behaviour and his attitude but in every game he must be decisive.”

-Antonio Conte; source: Chelsea FC