New Chelsea signing Eden Hazard has played down comparisons with Barcelona star Lionel Messi – but admits he can see the similarities.
The Blues latest £32m star purchase wants to become the Premier League version of the superstar Argentinean, and the Belgian international certainly has the confidence to succeed.
Hazard took part in his first game for the Blues last week, and scored in a 4-2 victory over MLS side Seattle Sounders. Fellow new boy Marko Marin also found the back of the net, as a much-changed Chelsea 11 demonstrated the club’s strength in depth and youthful potential.
And speaking to SunSport, Hazard revealed he’s more than happy to be compared to a player some regard as the greatest footballer of all time.
“Messi is the world’s best player and it’s a bit of an exaggeration to say I can be that good,” said Hazard.
“But I am happy if people see similarities between us and being compared to Messi makes me think about what I can achieve with Chelsea rather than the obstacles I need to overcome to get there.
“Ultimately it’s the coach who will decide if I play in a similar role to the one Messi plays for Barca but I am looking to succeed the Eden Hazard way.”
Although starting his career primarily as a winger, Hazard has recently moved inside into an attacking midfield role. Lionel Messi operates slightly higher up the pitch – as a false number 9 – but Hazard is likely to try to get as far forward as possible.
With Marin, Juan Mata and Danny Sturridge also vying for places, and Fernando Torres the probable starting option up front, Chelsea will look to Hazard to shine right away in a withdrawn forward role.
Tricky on the ball, with a sharp turn of pace and flashy dribbling skills, the comparisons with Lionel Messi are obvious. But the Belgian, who was twice named French Footballer of the Year, has a long way to go to match the heights scaled by Barcelona’s superstar.
Last season Messi scored 73 goals in all competitions, in the process becoming Barcelona’s record goalscorer despite still being just 25 years old. But costing a reported £32m, Chelsea will be hopeful their latest signing has what it takes to flourish in the Premier League.
The former-Lille winger was wanted by almost every top European club, but chose Roberto Di Matteo’s team after watching them triumph in the Champions League.
According to the Sun, Hazard has signed a £150,000 a week deal with the west London side, after turning down lucrative offers from Manchester City and Manchester United.
And it appears a switch to England was always on the cards, despite reported interest from Real Madrid, Barcelona and a number of Italian clubs.
“I have a particular affinity to the Premier League. It’s the best league in the world and it’s a really exciting challenge to be a part of that,” said Hazard.
“The atmosphere inside the stadiums is better than anywhere else in the world and it’s also a very competitive league with a lot of teams capable of winning it.
“Moving to England is stepping up to a different level and definitely involves more pressure. But I am ready for that.”
So can Hazard really be as good as Lionel Messi? Join the debate by leaving a comment below...