Eden Hazard is determined to get Belgium’s Euro 2016 campaign off to a winning start and hopes to impress his new Chelsea manager in the process.
Belgium take on Italy, led by Antonio Conte, in the teams’ Group E opener in Lyon on Monday.
The former Juventus boss will leave the Azzurri to take over at Stamford Bridge after his country’s involvement in the European Championship comes to an end.
If Hazard gets his wish, Belgium could have a hand in sending Italy home as early as possible, with the playmaker aiming to make a fast start at Parc Olympique Lyonnais.
“[I’m] very happy to play against my future manager tomorrow. I hope that I’m going to be able to show him everything I’m capable of producing and that next season he’ll be able to rely on me,” he told a news conference when asked about the meeting with Conte.
And the 25-year-old was not averse to giving Conte some advice on potential transfers, offering a ringing endorsement of international team-mate Radja Nainggolan, who has been linked with a switch from Roma to Chelsea.
“I think Radja Nainggolan is one of the best in the world in his position,” he said.
“So of course [Chelsea and Belgium goalkeeper] Thibaut Courtois and I would love him to come to Chelsea, but we’re not going to get involved in that situation. He’s focused on the European Championship and we’ll see what happens after that.”
Stand-in captain Hazard also sought to play down concerns over the injury crisis Belgium have suffered in defence ahead of the tournament, losing regular skipper Vincent Kompany and several other defenders in the months leading up to the tournament.
“We’re well aware of the quality we have in the side,” he said.
“We have good players all over the park.
“We have a few niggles at the back. But those who are going to replace Vincent Kompany … play for the best sides in the world.”
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