The Chelsea manager, Jose Mourinho, believes it is only a matter of time before Eden Hazard is seriously challenging Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo for the Ballon d'Or.
Hazard, who joined Chelsea from Lille for £32m in 2012, has thrived under Mourinho this term and is the club's leading scorer with 11 goals. He was named in the 23-man shortlist for this year's award, voted for by coaches, national captains and media, which was won by Ronaldo this month.
"If he wants to be a great, great player and arrive where Cristiano and Messi arrives, he has the space to go – he's 23, and Cristiano is 28, Messi 26. They are still young players, but a few years older than Eden. So he has space for evolution. I think there's a great ambition for him," Mourinho said.
"Eden is a winger, a pure winger. OK, we are giving him freedom to go to other areas, but he's an attacking winger. If he can be a match-winner, he can go there."
Chelsea will be attempting to secure an eighth successive win, their sixth in the Premier League, at home to West Ham United. Their form is in stark contrast to that of West Ham, who are in the bottom three with just four victories in the top flight all season. But Mourinho is not taking anything for granted.
He added: "I look at West Ham and I see them in trouble in the table, but I look at them and see a difficult match."