Jose Mourinho believes Eden Hazard has finally moved above Real Madrid stalwart Cristiano Ronaldo. The current Ballon d'Or holder produced another stunning season at the Bernabeu but the Chelsea manager believes the 30-year-old's lack of silverware leaves Hazard as the superior man.
Ronaldo scored 48 goals in La Liga last season to win his third Golden Boot in a year that also saw him pick up his third Ballon d'Or title. However, his exploits, although impressive, failed to reap a major trophy for the La Liga outfit and that is something Mourinho cannot look past.
Hazard came nowhere near the figures achieved by Ronaldo, scoring 14 goals and assisting a further nine on his way to winning the PFA Player of the Year award. He also won the Football Writer's Association award and was rewarded for his efforts by Chelsea, who made him the club's highest earner on £200,000-a-week. But, crucially, the Belgium international also collected his first Premier League title with the Blues.
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For Mourinho, goals are important, but nothing matters unless a player wins trophies. With Hazard taking home a league title and Ronaldo winning only individual accolades, the Special One thinks the Belgian winger is now the world's second best player.
"In my personal view, every football player in the world has to put the team first, but he has no titles.”
“Eden is coming with big status now and was voted one of the top ten players in Europe last year,” Mourinho told The Times. “In my opinion he should be in the top three, not in the top ten. I think he is the best player in our country. He’s alongside Messi and Ronaldo, depending on the season they have.
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“But they have to win some titles, no? Football without titles is nothing. Last season [Leo] Messi won the treble. He won three competitions last year, he reached the Copa America final and had a fantastic season for him and for his team.
“But last season Eden was above Ronaldo, in spite of the fact that Ronaldo was fantastic and scored an incredible number of goals. I don’t like players or managers to win individual trophies without the team. In my personal view, every football player in the world has to put the team first, but he has no titles.”
The comments will go down like a led balloon in the Spanish capital, where even the mention of Mourinho's name brings up its fair share of scorn. However, they are unlikely to take any such comment seriously as it is still rather clear how far ahead both Messi and Ronaldo are from the rest of the footballing world.
No player is likely to score as many goals as Ronaldo does in the Premier League because of the sheer physicality of the game in England. It is something Hazard is all too aware of after being fouled 40 times last season–more than any other player.
“In the Premier League last season Eden was very lucky not to break a leg”
Mourinho has now called on referees to give the 24-year-old more protection before he suffers a serious injury that puts his career in jeopardy.
“In the Premier League last season Eden was very lucky not to break a leg,” Mourinho said. “He could have been injured many, many times. I saw lots of players breaking legs and ankles with less than that.
“I don’t want to say names because last season is finished and let’s have a fresh start. I won’t name Mr A, Mr B or Mr C, but he had some very nasty tackles last year. I would like more protection for him.”
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