As one of the finest players of his generation, French World Cup winner Zinedine Zidane certainly knows the amount of skill and dedication required to become one of the world’s finest footballers.
The three-time FIFA World Player of the Year is currently working as a transfer adviser to Real Madrid president Florentino Perez, the man who brought him to the Bernabeu for a world record £45m in 2001. The Frenchman has been working closely alongside the club’s hierarchy in attracting the world’s best talent to Madrid and was instrumental in French forward Karim Benzema’s arrival in the Spanish capital last summer.
The football genius’ latest recommendation to his mega-rich employers is 19-year-old Belgian whiz kid Eden Hazard, who is already drawing favourable comparisons to £80m man Cristiano Ronaldo and Argentine star Lionel Messi. Zidane is a keen admirer of Hazard and has urged the La Liga side to move fast for the player’s signature.
“Eden Hazard is a future expert,” ‘Zizou’ told Marca. “He is very good and will become even better.
“Eden is technically gifted and very fast. He will be a major star in the future.
“I would take Hazard to Madrid with my eyes closed.”
The 19-year-old certainly has the talent to make it to the top of the global game, potential which was spotted by French side Lille in 2005. Hazard was scouted as a 14-year-old playing for local side Tubize and was immediately offered a youth contract with the Mastiffs. Within two years the mercurial talent had broken into the LOSC first team and went onto become the youngest ever scorer in the club’s history in 2008, at the age of 16.
The 2008-09 season was an exceptional one for Hazard who won critical acclaim for his performances in Ligue 1. His continued excellence saw him named the league’s Young Player of the Year, an award previously won by greats such as Thierry Henry, Zidane, Franck Ribery and Robert Pires. He also became the first ever foreign national ever to win the coveted title.
The youngster increased his reputation even further last season when he became the first player in the league’s history to defend his Young Player of the Year title. After 52 appearances and 10 goals he also narrowly missed out on the league’s Player of the Year award. He has also been capped 14 times for Belgium.
Hazard is skilful, has lightening quick pace and is technically ahead of his years. The Belgian has everything in his locker and would improve even further at one of Europe’s elite clubs.
Both Real Madrid and Bayern Munich were tracking the youngster over the summer and failed with £25m bids for the talented attacker. It seems Lille’s price tag is the only thing stopping Hazard from make another step on the road to greatness.
Yet if a side are willing to match his fee then they may just be signing one of the most exceptional talents of a generation.