Maurizio Sarri has attempted to play down speculation linking Eden Hazard with a move to Real Madrid, insisting that he is looking forward to having fun working with the Belgian and hopes to make him a better player.
The Italian, who has replaced Antonio Conte as the Blues boss, was speaking at his official unveiling on Wednesday amid mounting speculation that Hazard could be on his way out.
The 27-year-old has been strongly linked with a switch to Real Madrid as a possible replacement for Cristiano Ronaldo, while Barcelona are also apparently interested.
And while Sarri could offer no guarantees he would definitely stay put, he was keen to talk up the prospect of working with one of the top players in Europe.
"Hazard is a high level player and I think he is one of the top two or three European players," he told reporters.
"I would like to have fun during the week with him, this would mean good results and being competitive at the end of the season. I hope I will manage to improve him, this is very difficult as he is at a high level."
When asked how Hazard compares with one of his former players at Napoli, Dries Mertens, Sarri added: "Dries has improved with me but he started at a lower level. I hope Hazard will improve with me but it will be difficult.
Sarri says Eden Hazard is one of the top two or three European players and he is looking forward to having fun working with him in training and on matchdays. He hopes to improve our Belgian, which he says will be difficult considering he is already at such a high level! #SarriCFC— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) July 18, 2018
"Two top players, I hope I will improve Hazard too, but this will be very difficult."
Sarri, who conducted his first press conference as Chelsea manager in Italian, explained how he's looking to have "fun" in charge of the Premier League side and suggested it was irrelevant that he had not yet won a trophy during his managerial career.
"It is really a pleasure for me to be here in London, the Premier League and the best championship in the world. I am happy to be at Chelsea.
"I am sorry that my English is not the best, but I don’t want to say anything wrong. I hope to do it in a few weeks.
"My goal is to have fun and be competitive until the end. In life the biggest gift you may receive is to have fun while you do your job. I think it is better not to whinge, but to enjoy.