Chelsea boss Antonio Conte has rebuffed claims from Blues midfielder Cesc Fabregas that Eden Hazard needs to be more selfish in order to reach similar levels to five-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi.
Hazard made a significant impact as a second-half substitute during Chelsea’s 4-2 FA Cup semi-final victory over Tottenham at Wembley on Saturday as the Stamford Bridge club maintained their hopes of a domestic double.
Fabregas suggested in the aftermath that a lack of selfishness was all that was standing in between Hazard being the equal of Messi, who scored his 500th Barcelona goal in El Clasico on Sunday.
But Conte, whose side entertain Southampton in a vital Premier League tussle on Tuesday, has taken exception to former Arsenal skipper Fabregas’s viewpoint, insisting that he would not indulge such a player in his squad.
“The first target for every great champion is to play for the team and to put your talent in the team,” said Conte. “I don’t think that a player like Messi is a selfish player. The best players in the world don’t exist without the team.
“For me, it’s sad when I listen to this, that one player must be more selfish to reach the top level. This is not my idea of football. I never will understand this. Never.
“In my team, I don’t want selfish players. I prefer to lose a game than to have a selfish player. I don’t want this, I can’t accept this. I don’t want my club to one day buy me a selfish player, never.”
Chelsea will bid to extend their advantage to seven points against the Saints this evening and pile the pressure on second-placed Tottenham, who face in-form Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Wednesday.
Spurs striker Harry Kane and centre-half Toby Alderweireld have both said that Chelsea’s semi-final triumph does not represent a psychological edge in the title race, and Conte agrees.
“I think for us this win was important,” said the Italian. “You reach the final in the FA Cup, a great competition, and for us it’s great.
“It’s great to know when after a week we finish the championship we have to play a final in the FA Cup.
“These are two different competitions and we have six games to go. It’s important to start this rush of fixtures very well, to try to keep the four-point lead.”
Chelsea’s on-field skipper Gary Cahill has recovered from gastroenteritis and is in contention to feature against Southampton after missing Saturday’s FA Cup showdown.