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Saturday, December 9, 2017

Eden Hazard must show hunger of Cristiano Ronaldo if he is to become world's best, says Antonio Conte

Conte also believes 8th-placed Kante will struggle to ever win the award


Antonio Conte has told Chelsea forward Eden Hazard he must show he has the same hunger to succeed as Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi if he is to join the world’s best players in challenging to win the Ballon d’Or.
Ronaldo, the Real Madrid forward, matched the record of Messi in winning the award for a fifth time this week. The Barcelona forward came second, ahead of Paris Saint Germain’s Neymar, while Hazard was positioned in 19th place in the list of the world’s best players.

Conte, the Chelsea head coach, is convinced Hazard has the qualities to win the award but identified the additional characteristics of the players who routinely top the poll. “When you see these players you see a hunger in every moment,” he said. “Score one goal they want to score the second, score second want to score the third. They are very hungry and for that reason they are special. They want to win.
“It is not important if last season Ronaldo won, now if you ask him or Messi they are going to play another World Cup with the same hunger because they have hunger, they want to win, win, win and continue. The past is not important for these players. For these reasons I have a great, great respect for these players because to stay at that level you have to work very hard, it is tough.
“I like to call it a 'sacred fire', when you have it inside you, the will to win every game to score goals. Every one of us, we have this sacred fire and we have to find the right solution to improve it. At this level you must have this type of situation. Then the flame can be big or little. When you have an inferno it means you are like Messi, Ronaldo, Neymar.
Conte added: “Eden has right characteristic to try to fight with these giants. He has the characteristic, so then he has to try to do this. And to improve his position in this table in the next year. He has the potential to do this but it is not simple to overcome this chance.”
N’Golo Kante, Hazard’s team-mate, was the highest ranked Premier League player in eighth place and while Conte concedes the defensive midfielder is unlikely to ever win the award, he insists the France international would have been his choice.
“Honestly I don't know if Kante can win the Ballon d’Or in his life because of the characteristic of this player. He doesn't score a lot of goals. He is a great worker. For a coach Kante has to win, for every coach. If you ask coaches we would take this decision. But in reality it would be very difficult for him to win. Paolo Maldini never won, but he was the best defender in the world. Never won. Gianluigi Buffon never won, he was the best goalkeeper in the world for many years. But this is the story of the Ballon d’Or. You have to respect it is a particular classification.”
Hazard and Kante will be part of Conte’s team at West Ham on Saturday when Chelsea attempt to close the gap to leaders Manchester City to eight points ahead of Sunday’s Manchester derby. Conte admits a meeting with near neighbours brings an additional pressure and claims the number of all-London Premier League fixtures disadvantages teams from the capital in the title race.
“I think the derby is always a different type of game, it's always a special game,” he said. “If you are a team and you stay in London you must be prepared to play a lot of special games. For sure it is different this type of game. In Italy if you are in Turin and there is only one derby, in Milan the same, in Rome. In Manchester only one game. Here you must be ready to face many teams and I think also for our fans this is a special game.
“I think in this league every game is very touch but to play during a season eight to ten derbies is more difficult.”

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