Eden Hazard
Reuters

Chelsea playmaker Eden Hazard believes that sooner rather than later he will be set competing with Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo as the best player in the world.

The 23-year-old is enjoying a coming-of-age season this year, having already scored nine goals and grabbing seven assists in just 22 Premier League games. He has already matched last year's Premier League goal tally and been a pivotal player in Chelsea's title push.

Asking in an interview with Het Laatste Nieuws about possible comparisons with Ronaldo, Hazard said: "I realise that I can compete with Messi and Ronaldo in the near future, if I put in some more effort.

"I don't know if I will ever reach their level. It'll be hard, they have incredible stats, but I accept the challenge.

"Of course I want to be the best in the world. Previously I was more worried about the game itself: football was just a game for me, I wanted to amuse myself and didn't bother what the people thought about me.

"Since I've been at Chelsea, I've become more aware of my qualities, I guess. Before I knew I was a good player, but not one of the better players in the world."

Chelsea signed Hazard in summer 2012 after paying £32m to Lille, and after an impressive debut campaign he has become one of the best players in England this season. Hazard believes Mourinho's arrival has been a key factor in his development.

"I've matured (with Mourinho). On the pitch I haven't changed much. I'm still the same, but I realised that, if I want to be among the best in the world, I'll have to perform consistently, game in, game out.

"I'm now important for the team, I give good passes, I score more goals and Chelsea are performing well.

"As a professional, you have to challenge yourself every day. Put yourself in front of a mirror. The manager is close to his players, but when he has something to say, he does it to your face, in a friendly way. And he knows how to challenge his players.

"Everyone expects more from me. I hear it every day. Maybe I need these little comments, too. When a manager always says 'Eden, you're doing great', there is a threat that you can snooze."

The Belgium international also claims that Chelsea are improving every day and he has no doubts about their chances of winning trophies this year.

"We are still in the race for the title, the Champions League and the FA Cup. We have to win at least one or two of these competitions.

"Chelsea is a club that goes for prizes and I want to win trophies too."

Chelsea will face Galatasaray in the last 16 of the Champions League and they will play Manchester City in the FA Cup after beating Stoke City in the fourth round last Sunday.