Shortly after signing his new contract at Stamford Bridge, Eden Hazard sat down with the official Chelsea website to express his delight at extending his stay in SW6, look back on his time at the club thus far and outline the determination within the squad to make it a successful end to the season...
It would be no exaggeration to suggest it’s been a pretty good week for Hazard.
Scorer of our opening goal in Saturday’s 2-1 win at Aston Villa, the Belgian then played the full 90 minutes in last night’s dramatic victory against Everton, when Willian’s late goal maintained our seven-point lead at the top of the Premier League table.
Having now committed his future to the club for the next five-and-a-half years, it’s no surprise to see the widest of smiles appear on Hazard’s face as he reflects on the past six days.
‘I’ve signed a new contract and I’m very happy because I’m playing for one of the best clubs in the world,’ he tells the official Chelsea website.
‘I can take pleasure on the pitch and I can try to win trophies - that’s what’s most important. I want to say thank you to the club, all the fans and everybody that works for Chelsea.
‘It’s been a perfect week. We played Aston Villa, which was a difficult game, but we managed to win. Last night’s game against Everton was also very tough, but Willian scored a beautiful goal at the end, and now with the new contract the week has finished really well.
‘When I came here I was very happy and I’ve been here for two-and-a-half years now. I only have good memories, even in the difficult moments, when we’ve lost certain matches. I’ve made a lot of new friends, London is a very good city and the supporters are brilliant. It’s been a great opportunity for me to play here.’
Since signing for the Blues from French Ligue 1 side Lille in the summer of 2012, Hazard has gone from strength to strength.
An impressive first season at the club was followed by a second in which his ability to make an impact on matches in a positive way became even more apparent, to the extent that he was named PFA Young Player of the Year, as well as the club’s Player of the Year. Hazard has also been named in the PFA Premier League Team of the Season twice.
‘I was always confident I could reach a high level,’ he says. ‘I’m still young, but I did well in France and I have done well during my time in England so far.
‘To be named in the Team of the Season isn’t important to me, I just want to help the team win trophies. Last season was good but we didn’t win anything, so hopefully we can change that.
‘It wasn’t difficult to adapt because a lot of people speak French, so it was easy for me. The big players helped me a lot.
‘On the pitch I did a good job and sometimes when you do well on the pitch, it helps you off the pitch as well, so that was very important for me.’
Jose Mourinho’s influence certainly hasn’t gone unnoticed, and the manager said today that Hazard believes the coaching staff and players can help him become the best player in the world.
The 24-year-old spoke about the understanding he shares with Mourinho.
‘Even in the bad moments he has been with me, we can speak honestly with each other.
‘If I have played well he tells me, but if I haven’t played so well he also lets me know. I like the kind of relationship we have. He gives me the freedom to play and I just try to do my best.’
Hazard has made no secret of his desire to score goals on a regular basis as he strives to continually improve in every department.
Saturday’s strike at Villa Park, his 13th of the campaign, saw him equal the figure with which he ended his first season in west London, and having netted 17 times during 2013/14, he is well placed to achieve the individual target he sets himself.
‘It’s my objective to score more goals every season,’ he states. ‘Even if I don’t score I always give my best on the pitch, but obviously for an offensive player the most important things are to win, score goals and make assists.
‘I hope I can reach maybe 20 or 25 goals before the end of the season, that would be very good for me and the team.’
Mourinho has spoken repeatedly about the importance of the Champions League in relation to the development of his young players, and Hazard has certainly benefited from playing regularly against the best sides in Europe.
The competition resumes next week when the Blues travel to France to take on Paris Saint-Germain in the first leg of our last 16 clash, a repeat of last season’s quarter-final.
‘Yes, I try to watch French football every week,’ he responds, when asked if he has seen our upcoming opponents in action of late. ‘They have some very big players, we know how difficult it will be to win there but our aim is to reach the final and win the competition.
‘Last season we lost 3-1 in Paris but in the first half we played very well, I scored a penalty and hit the post as well. The scoreline was a bit harsh on us but the second leg here was brilliant.
‘My friend Demba Ba scored a beautiful goal at the end to put us through. I was off the pitch injured at the time but I was very happy for him.’
In between those two games against Laurent Blanc’s side, Hazard will step out at Wembley for his first domestic final as a Chelsea player in the Capital One Cup, with the Blues needing to overcome Tottenham Hotspur in order to secure the first trophy of the season.
‘I’m excited and I want to win it, for ourselves and for the fans,’ says the Chelsea winger.
‘Wembley is a stadium where you have to win. We want to bring the trophy back to Stamford Bridge so hopefully it will be a good game.’
There has been a great deal of positivity surrounding Hazard’s time as a Chelsea player up until this point, and with the team still going strong on three fronts, the next few months have the potential to see him secure the major trophies he so desperately craves.
‘Our squad has the perfect mix, we have experience and fresh legs,’ he explains. ‘We need both if we want to be champions, and the players who are not involved give everything when they get their opportunity. That’s the mentality we need.
‘A seven-point lead is good but we all know how difficult the Premier League is. If we lose one game it could be down to four points, and things can change very quickly. We know Manchester City will keep giving everything, so if we want to stay top of the table we have to keep winning.’