Chelsea forward Eden Hazard has revealed what is behind his spectacular return to form this season.
The Belgian international struggled to look like himself last term, and as such has been left out of the 30-man shortlist for the Ballon d'Or.
And having bagged two goals in the 5-0 win over Everton at the weekend, Hazard opened up on why he feels that he is back to his best as well as revealing his ambitions for the future.
Article continues below
The victory over the Toffees saw Chelsea move to the top of the table, and his performance got him looking every bit the player that lifted joint PFA Player of the Year awards in 2014/15.
Under new manager Antonio Conte he has already managed to bag himself seven goals for the campaign so far, with five of them coming in his last four appearances.
Article continues below
And speaking with Belgian newspaper HLN, he explained that Antonio Conte has given him the freedom to do what he does best.
“Last season was difficult for me. I tried to be the same player that I was two years ago," he said.
“But now I am trying to play like when I was a kid. I am enjoying playing now, my position is a bit different from before, I go inside more. It gives me more freedom, and am good for the moment.
“Conte has not change a lot, it is just that I have a little bit more freedom when we have the ball and without the ball.
“Because I don’t need to defend against the right-back, because Marcos Alonso is there. I just focus on staying in my position. And when I have the ball I have more freedom and I can go where I want to go, and be decisive."
Hazard struggled to adapt to Jose Mourinho's demands last season and his form badly suffered, but when quizzed on why he struggled so badly he responded: “I don’t know.
"I don’t try to find excuses. But I was not at the top level, for the first time since I started my career.
“I have won a lot of trophies, individual as well. But last season I was maybe a little bit tired, mentally, physically. I don’t know.”
Ballon d'Or target
The 25-year-old went on to explain that he was hurt by being left off this year's Ballon d'Or shortlist, and highlighted his desire to return to being talked about and considered as one of the best players in the world.
“Last season I was not good, so for me it was normal that I was not on the list. But I want to come back on the list, and give everything to be on the list, not to be in the top 23 but to be in the top five. Yes, I want to reach that level.”
With Chelsea playing the way they have been recently, bringing some silverware back to Stamford Bridge certainly doesn't appear to be out of the question.
However, the club's absence in Europe could have a detrimental effect on whether he can be taken seriously as a genuine contender to lift the prize when the next shortlist is announced.