Eden Hazard must score more goals to be considered among the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, according to Chelsea manager Antonio Conte.
Having missed the first month of the season due to an ankle injury picked up while on international duty with Belgium in June, Hazard has scored five goals in 14 Premier League games.
After signing for Chelsea in 2012 shortly after the club’s Champions League victory, Hazard has slowly emerged as one of the best players in the Premier League.
Scoring 16 league goals last season to help Chelsea win their second title in three years, Hazard came 19th in this year’s Ballon d’Or, won by Ronaldo whose 42 goals in 2017 led Real Madrid to Champions League and La Liga glory.
And though Hazard has been tipped to reach the levels of Ronaldo and Barcelona’s Messi, Conte believes the Belgian has to improve one particular aspect of his game.
“He could score more,” the Italian told a news conference, as reported by ESPN.
“If you see the stats, you understand that he can score more goals. That is an aspect he can improve.
“When you are a striker, or a No. 10, your speciality must be to score. I think in this aspect he has a lot of space for improvement.
“But don’t forget he’s younger than them [Ronaldo and Messi].”
Having spent the majority of Conte’s time in charge at Chelsea on the wing, Hazard has been shifted into a more central position this season, accompanying Alvaro Morata in attack.
While Hazard has been quiet in recent weeks for goals and assists, the Belgian’s influence off the ball has been more effective than ever for Chelsea.
By dropping deeper, Hazard often draws a defender away from his partner Morata giving the Spaniard more chance to bring the ball under control and launch an attack.
The Belgian is still, however, being his usual tricky self on the ball completing more take ons (74) than any other Premier League player this season.
Hazard’s future at Chelsea has been thrown into doubt in recent days, with the player’s father claiming he has turned down a new contract with the club.