By 90Min
December 09, 2017

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte believes Eden Hazard has the ability to win the Ballon d'Or but has encouraged the Belgium international to unleash the 'sacred fire' within himself in order to compete with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

The pairs duopoly of the prestigious FIFA award over the past 10-years has ensured very few get a look-in, with Ronaldo securing his fifth Ballon d'Or on Thursday which brought him level with rival Messi.

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Conte, however, insists Hazard must consistently show he has a strong desire and hunger to reach the levels which would see him emerge from the chasing pack, and end the era of dominance by the Real Madrid and Barcelona duo.  

The 26-year-old came 19th in the vote for the 2017 award, but Conte believes a more ruthless approach will see him rocket up the standings, he said, via Goal"In these players, Ronaldo or Messi and the same with Neymar, you see a hunger in every moment.

"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 repeat, I have a great, great respect for these players because to stay at that level you have to work very hard, it is tough.

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"Eden is an important player for us and during games he can make the difference for us. This is important. But, at the same time, I am his coach and I try to push him."

When pressed as to how Hazard could reach the next level, Conte said: "I like to call it a 'sacred fire', when you have it inside you, the will to win every game and to score goals.

"Every one of us, we have this sacred fire and we have to find the right solution to improve it. Then the flame can be big or little. When you have an inferno it means you are like Messi, Ronaldo or Neymar.

"Eden has right characteristics to try to fight with these giants. He has the characteristics, 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 [take] this chance."

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