Eden Hazard says “now it is time” for Chelsea to win the Champions League again as they prepare to kick off their return to the competition against Qarabag at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday night.
Chelsea are the last English team to triumph in Europe’s elite club competition, having been crowned champions in dramatic fashion with a penalty shootout victory over Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena in 2012.
Hazard arrived too late to be part of that success, moving to Stamford Bridge from Lille in a £32 million deal later that summer, and the Belgium international says that claiming a Champions League winners’ medal remains one of his top priorities.
“This year is really important [in the Champions League],” he is quoted as saying by the Daily Mirror after Chelsea’s 2-1 win over Leicester on Saturday. “I just reached the semifinal with Chelsea, when we lost to Atletico Madrid [in 2014], so it’s in my head to win this trophy.
“I have won the Premier League, I have won the title in France, I have won cups, but big players always want to win the Champions League. I think now it is time to win this. We have a good squad, we have a good manager, so we are ready for it.”
Chelsea benefitted from a lack of European commitments as they surged to the Premier League title last season, but Hazard says that he prefers a more crowded schedule if it means competing in the Champions League again.
“As a player, you want to be in the Champions League, but last year we just had to watch it on the television,” he added. “That isn’t a good feeling.
“I hate having to watch it, I don’t like watching any games. You want to play these kind of games because every time you play in the Champions League it’s a big game and everybody is watching you, so yeah we are happy to be back.”
Hazard is working his way back to full fitness after sitting out the summer with a broken ankle sustained on international duty in June, but he said he feels good after a lively 12-minute cameo from the substitutes’ bench against Leicester.
“I feel ready, ready to be part of the team,” he added. “I had the chance to play with my national team and did a good job there [over the international break] and for the last month I’ve just been working hard to be fit.”
In Hazard’s absence, club-record signing Alvaro Morata has emerged as a key player for Chelsea, making an impressive start to life in the Premier League with three goals — all with his head — and two assists in his first four appearances.
“Like you saw, I saw he is a good player — I saw that he scores a lot with his head, now he needs to score with his feet,” Hazard is quoted as saying by Goal. “He is a top player. He can score every time. When he scores, we win the game so I think he is good.
“He is in good form. Even in the [Spanish] national team he scored three times so I hope that for Chelsea, he can score a lot of goals.”
Liam is ESPN FC’s Chelsea correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Liam_Twomey.