Eden Hazard has been one of the standout players in this Premier League campaign; the 24 year old Belgian has spearheaded his Chelsea side to the brink of the title and has accrued himself the honour of the PFA’s Player of the Year, with the writer’s award sure to follow.
After being recognised as the best player in the division and the country, many have now been putting Hazard’s name into the ring for the world’s best. For all of his monumental ability, does he really measure up to the top bracket superstars in the game?
John Terry has recently suggested that his team mate can, and should, be mentioned in the same bracket as Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. He argues his consistency, his burst of pace and his innate ability to glide past people mean that he can be a serious contender to the crown.
Few outside Stamford Bridge would agree with the Chelsea captain’s assumption, that is not a sly on the winger, but more an acceptance that those two players are not only the two best players of their generation but they are two of the best to have ever graced a pitch. For all of Hazard’s mind-bending skills and composure in front of goal his stats do not really weigh up compared to the two Kings.
Chelsea’s man has undoubtedly been superb for Chelsea, he has been the figurehead for a team struggling to score goals and he has become a talisman on the pitch and has arguably been the pivotal factor in getting his side over the line. He has managed a mightily impressive 13 goals this campaign, good by any standards; but when compared to Ronaldo and Messi’s respective tallies it pales in significance. The former Lille man may be the peak the Premier League has to offer, but at this point he is dining at an entirely different table to the world’s leading lights.
What may seem a more reasonable assumption is the one that Alan Shearer put forward; he has all the potential to be the best, especially under the tutelage of Jose Mourinho he can still develop so much. There is little doubt he has all the attributes to be one of the great players in world football, but not yet. In several years the media hyperbole surrounding Eden Hazard may be warranted, but at this point it is a farfetched notion.
The biggest compliment that anyone can pay Eden Hazard is that he is now part of the conversation, like it or not he has consistently put it in the performances that have made people sit up and take notice.
In a week where the sport of boxing takes centre stage in Las Vegas, it gives a perfect example of where the Belgian currently finds himself. Mayweather and Pacquiao are the Messi and Ronaldo of the squared circle, if one day Kell Brook can grace a ring with those two superpowers we may see his true potential, but for now he is on the outside looking in, the second tier of the true elite.