Thibaut Courtois has tipped his Chelsea teammate Eden Hazard to replicate Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi by winning the Ballon d'Or.
The Chelsea goalkeeper Hazard may not yet be of the standard of the two greats of the modern age, but at 24 years of age he has time on his side in his quest for greatness.
Ronaldo and Messi have 30 league goals each this season and have won the Ballon d'Or seven times between them. Ronaldo has won the award for the past two seasons and Messi scooped an unprecedented five consecutive awards between 2008 and 2012.
Article continues below
Hazard has been in scintillating form for Chelsea since signing from Lille in 2012 for £32 million. He won the PFA Young Player of the Year in 2014 and was last week named Player of the Year at the London Football Awards.
And his fellow Belgian Courtois thinks it is only a matter of time until Hazard scoops football's most prestigious individual award.
Article continues below
The 22-year-old told RMC, brought to our attention by ESPN: "He's still not at the level of Messi and Ronaldo, who are head and shoulders above all the other players. But Eden has the potential to get there.
"He's only 24 years old. He can still improve. He has the potential to be a future Ballon d'Or. But as long as Messi and Ronaldo play like that, scoring 30 goals in 30 matches, it won't be easy."
Hazard and Courtois in great form
Hazard has scored 14 goals this season for the Blues and has 13 assists in 40 appearances.
Courtois himself has been in good form himself since returning to the west London side after a three-year loan spell at Atletico Madrid.
Ahead of their second-leg Champions League last-16 tie against Paris Saint Germain on Wednesday, ex-Chelsea defender David Luiz was quick to praise Courtois' performance in the Parc des Princes three weeks ago.
"If Chelsea did not have Courtois in goal we would have won the game," he said. "He was unbelievable, it is clear that Chelsea have one of the best goalkeepers in the world."
Tie delicately poised
The tie is poised at 1-1 but Chelsea have a formidable home record this season and knocked the French champions out at the same stage of the competition last season.
A 3-1 victory for the Parisians was not enough in the first leg as Chelsea shocked Laurent Blanc's side with a 2-0 win at Stamford Bridge thanks to a late winner for Demba Ba which saw Jose Mourinho's side progress on away goals.