Chelsea winger Pedro believes club teammate Eden Hazard has the qualities to compete with the likes of Lionel Messi in the coming years.
Hazard is Chelsea’s most talented footballer at present and despite a poor 2015-16 season, the Belgian is among the best attacking players in Europe. The Blues’ no.10, who has mesmerised the Stamford Bridge crowd with his silky skills and stunning goals, will be looking to silence his critics next season under Antonio Conte.
“Hazard is a very, very good player, you can see his technique is excellent and he has shown everything at Chelsea,” Pedro was quoted as saying in the Daily Express. “He is still young, so he is going to continue improving to one day be among the very best in the world.”
Pedro even went on to state that Hazard, who he believes still has room for a lot of improvement, could one day go on challenge the Lionel Messi-Cristiano Ronaldo duopoly in world football.
“It’s always going to be difficult to compete with a player of Lionel’s ability, but Eden has all the qualities to do exactly that,” said Pedro. “He has that ability and talent to stand out from the crowd, to make the difference and be decisive. When you see him produce moments of magic, it is easy to draw comparisons with Messi.”
Despite all his potential, Hazard struggled with the Blues last season as the defending champions could only muster a 10th placed finish in the Premier League — their worst result in the Roman Abramovich era. However, Pedro believes that Hazard has what it takes to bounce back and produce match-winning performances once again on a regular basis.
“Everyone should be patient and forget what happened to him last season. The whole team struggled, not just Eden,” continued Pedro. “If you are a big player you will always have a lot of pressure on you. It’s the same for Eden, just as it is for Messi, Neymar and Cristiano Ronaldo.”
While he had a poor Premier League campaign, managing to score only four goals and providing only three assists from 31 appearances, Hazard completely turned it around in national team colours as he scored one goal and provided four assists from five appearances for Belgium at the 2016 European Championships. His performances helped Belgium reach the quarter-final of the tournament, where they were knocked out by Wales.
Incidentally, Marc Wilmots handed the captain’s armband to Hazard for the tournament after Belgium skipper Vincent Kompany was ruled out of the Euros due to an injury. Hazard seemed to revel in his new role as the leader of the pack, and with Chelsea captain John Terry nearing the end of his career at the age of 35, Conte may consider Hazard as one of the men to lead the side in order to get the best out of him.