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Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri believes Eden Hazard can become the best player in Europe if he wants, but he’ll have to work on the physical side of his game.

Per Goal’s Nizaar Kinsella, the Italian talked up his star winger and even hinted at a possible role as a striker, making comparisons to Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo:

“Hazard, technically, is really one of the best in Europe in this moment, I think. He has to work from the physical point of view, of course.

“In the last five years, Cristiano [Ronaldo] has played like a striker. [Lionel] Messi like a striker, Eden sometimes like a winger. Eden can improve. We are talking about one of the most important players in Europe now but, in my opinion, he can improve more.

“He can be the first. It depends on him. The best for technical skill, the best for scoring, but I think it depends only on him. On his mind.”

Per the Mirror’s John Cross, he also revealed he was afraid the Belgian would leave the club this summer: 

Hazard was one of the standout players during the 2018 FIFA World Cup, leading to renewed transfer speculation.

With Ronaldo leaving for Juventus, Real Madrid have a major need for an attacking upgrade and plenty of cash to spend, and Los Blancos continue to be linked with the Red Devil, per Neil Fissler and Lloyd Johnson at the Sunday Express.

But a transfer seems out of the question at this stage of the summer window, and instead, Sarri will get to work his magic with the former Lille man. He previously turned compatriot Dries Mertens from a run-of-the-mill winger into a star striker, so Blues fans will undoubtedly be curious to see what he can do with Hazard.

HUDDERSFIELD, ENGLAND - AUGUST 11: Eden Hazard of Chelsea is challenged by Jonathan Hogg of Huddersfield Town during the Premier League match between Huddersfield Town and Chelsea FC at John Smith's Stadium on August 11, 2018 in Huddersfield, United Kingd

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The 27-year-old has long been one of the Premier League’s best, winning the competition twice and the PFA Players’ Player of the Year award at the conclusion of the 2014-15 campaign. 

The one area where he has room for improvement is raw statistical output, as he has never cracked the 20-goal mark in the Premier League and hasn’t recorded double-digit assists since his debut campaign, per 

But if his short cameo in the win over Huddersfield was any indication, Hazard is in for a big year:

Former Chelsea boss Antonio Conte experimented with Hazard as the striker last season with mixed results. Sarri has already shown he can mould a system around an undersized striker, however, so he might have more luck than his compatriot. 

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