Eden Hazard Has the Quality to Match Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo

Glenn HoddleFeatured ColumnistMarch 31, 2014

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 18:  Eden Hazard of Chelsea takes on Emmanuel Eboue (27) and Felipe Melo of Galatasaray (3) during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 second leg match between Chelsea and Galatasaray AS at Stamford Bridge on March 18, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Eden Hazard has all the qualities to become as big a world star as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, but I am curious to know whether that will happen at Chelsea or whether he will end up at Real Madrid.

My message to Chelsea fans is simple—enjoy every minute of Eden Hazard while he remains at Stamford Bridge.

Hazard is clearly one of the players of the season along with Liverpool's Luis Suarez and Manchester City's Yaya Toure.

But he is still a long way from his peak, and while he will be a top player over the next three or four years, he could then become one of the best in the world.

He had a decent enough first year with Chelsea, but he is now excelling in his second season, and he has a World Cup with Belgium to raise his game still further.

For me, he is one of those players, as a neutral, you would pay good money to go watch.

He is that type of player I love to watch, one that has you on the edge of your seat wondering what he is going to do next.

Hazard is unreadable to fan and defender alike, and that makes for compulsive viewing.

He is a wonderfully technically gifted payer, two-footed with outstanding balance and quickness of foot, which is why he wins so many free kicks.

He has added a new dimension to his game, because Jose Mourinho's players, no matter who they are, or how good they are or think they are, have to work hard as well as be an outstanding individual.

The team ethic is vitally important to the Chelsea manager, and that is how it should be. Mourinho demands that his players place importance on the team ethic, and this has benefited Hazard's all-around game.

He now understands when you have to spin off and when you can let the full-backs go.

But he is still learning, and he is gaining a great education under Mourinho at Chelsea. He still has a long way to go to be as good as Messi and Ronaldo, but time is on his side, and we shall see if that will happen when he hits his peak at around the age of 28.

The big question for me is whether he will hit that peak at Chelsea, because quite clearly his talent has been noted by clubs like Barcelona and Real Madrid, and you can see him heading off to Madrid to fulfil all of his potential and breaking into the top three players in world football.

If I were a Chelsea fan, I wouldn’t worry about what might happen, but I would make sure I enjoyed every moment while he remains in a Chelsea shirt.

Hazard’s ability is clearly key to whether Chelsea are going to make it into the Champions League semi-finals, as Paris Saint-Germain, with all their wonderfully gifted players, will be a tough nut to crack. And while Hazard could be a potential match-winner in the first leg, the key for Mourinho will be to produce a highly disciplined performance, especially from Hazard, as well showing off his enormous skills.

The tie will be won or lost, ultimately, at the Bridge, and it's there that I'm looking for a throwback to the night when the Chelsea crowd willed their team to victory when I was manager and we beat Club Brugge at the Bridge.

I'd love to see that atmosphere recreated against a team that poses a real threat with so many quality players.

That night I managed the team, the crowd created something really special, and I'd love for them to do it again. It had been such a long time since Chelsea fans savoured such European nights, way back in the early '70s, and it was a wonderful night, a great occasion.

Having played in Monaco, it is good to see French football enjoying a resurgence. I learned a lot, more off the field, playing for Arsene Wenger at Monaco. The preparation was nothing I had ever seen in England, the training, nutrition, amount of water you were required to drink, recovery planning. It was all far advanced from anything in English football, way ahead. I felt fitter at the age of 29 than I had ever done in my life.

The style of football was vastly different, very technical. Defenders' main criteria was how they used the ball. Every player looked technically astute, and that was first and foremost.  Players had to take care of the ball, cope with and master the ball, improving with the ball.

It was a major challenge for me to adapt to the man-to-man marking. I enjoyed being given the role just behind the striker, which I considered my best position. It took three months to come to terms with the man-to-man marking, but I overcome it in the end.

You can understand why so many gifted individuals coming over from abroad free from those shackles flourish in English football, such as Gianfranco Zola, Dennis Bergkamp and Eric Cantona, who struggled in France was and farmed out on loan from pillar to post, but when he came here he was able to play between the lines and excel.

Naturally when I came back to England to coach and manage, and especially at a club like Chelsea, I tried to introduce many aspects I learned from France, such as nutrition, reflexologist, two masseurs. I also changed the training ground, which had no baths, no gym, zero facilities that you would expect to be commonplace now. I had my battles with the board to force it over the line, but slowly but surely I brought in better habits and better preparation off the pitch.

I wanted all the teams, from the youth side through to the seniors to play the same style, and that benefited the youngsters coming through like Michael Dubbery, Jody Morris and even John Terry, who was in the youngest group.


Glenn Hoddle is technical director of Football 30, where 80 of the greatest legends from Chelsea, Arsenal, Spurs, West Ham taking part in Elite Legends Cup at Brisbane Road on May 18.

Paolo Di Canio, Iain Dowie, Alan Devonshire, Teddy Sheringham, Ossie Ardiles, Ricky Villa, Danny Murphy, Darren Anderton, Franco Zola, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, Martin Keown, Nail Quinn, Paul Merson, Alan Smith, John Jensen, Kenny Sansom, Ian Wright are among multitude of top stars participating.