|Wayne Rooney warned by David Moyes over Manchester United pecking order.|
Eden Hazard has added emphatic dressing-room support to Chelsea’s potential signing of Wayne Rooney but also stressed that his Belgium team-mates, Christian Benteke and Romelu Lukaku, are now ready to deliver on the highest stage.
A new striker has been among the priorities for Jose Mourinho this summer and, with Edinson Cavani likely to follow Radamel Falcao into the French league, Benteke and Rooney are both under serious consideration.
Mourinho offered public praise for Rooney on Chelsea’s arrival in Bangkok on Friday and, after training in the Thai capital on Monday night, Hazard delivered his enthusiastic endorsement.
“We’ve heard all the names – it’s not up to us who comes in but it’s exciting,” he said. “Rooney would be a brilliant signing. He’s a really great player who has the experience, and he’s still only young, at 27. He’s got a few years left to play. It’s always a pleasure to play with great players, and Chelsea sign great players.”
Lukaku is also back from an encouraging loan spell at West Bromwich Albion and, with Fernando Torres on holiday following the Confederations Cup, will be given an opportunity during the club’s pre-season tour of Asia.
A new striker is a priority for Chelsea this summer and Wayne Rooney has been praised by Jose Mourinho
“When I arrived at Chelsea I was still a kid,” he said. “[At West Bromwich] I became a man. I always said by 21 I want to be one of the top players in the world. Now is really the year of preparation for me to be at that level. I expect a lot more than I did last year.
“We have a manager that expects a lot of the players in training. It pushes me towards another level. We had a good talk and now it’s up to me. If I do a good pre-season, I think I will have a place in the squad and hopefully in the starting eleven.”
Although Tottenham are poised to lodge a bid, Benteke is another striker on Mourinho’s radar. Benteke scored 19 Premier League goals during an impressive first full season at Aston Villa but handed in a transfer request last week.
“Benteke is my friend,” Hazard said. “He had an unbelievable first season for a young striker in the Premier League. His dream is to play even higher. As for his decision,
I think it’s the right one because he has the quality to impose himself wherever. We speak all the time and he’d told me: ‘Right, I’ve done well. What next?’ I think he’s got all the attributes to do well at a big club.”
Hazard, who is one month younger than the 22-year-old Benteke, also disclosed how he previously turned down the opportunity to join Mourinho at Real Madrid because he did not want to rush his development.
“He told me he’d asked Lille, but I wanted to stay there until I was 21 and develop my game,” Hazard said. “Real Madrid is a wonderful team, but I had so much still to prove in the French league at the time. I stayed because I didn’t want to leave too early. He [Mourinho] has spoken a bit to all of us now. He has told us all what he wants from us.
“He told me to be ambitious with my game, to try things and that, if I do that, I can do something special this year. He’s someone who comes across as very calm in what he does. There’s been a lot said about him and written about him, things we’d heard and read, but I’ve found him a very good person.
"He loves his players. He laughs and jokes with them a lot out on the training pitch. We know what he is. With him in charge, we win matches and claim trophies.”
Asked if Mourinho could make the difference in Chelsea reclaiming the Premier League, Hazard said: “Yes, sure, his arrival is important certainly. With a good manager in place, our chances are even greater.”