Rio Ferdinand has likened Chelsea to Manchester United’s treble winning team and has hailed the influence of Eden Hazard.

In an exclusive column in The Times, Manchester United legend Rio Ferdinand has explained why Chelsea are closing in on the Premier League, and has compared the Blues’ counter-attacking brand of football to his United side of the last decade.

The former Manchester United defender wrote:

“In March, Eden Hazard scored a goal in Chelsea’s 2-1 win at West Ham, set up by N’Golo Kante and Pedro, that was the moment I sat up and went: ‘Whoah, this is a special team.’

“Not since my Manchester United team with Cristiano Ronaldo in his pomp have I seen a side counter so quickly, so efficiently and with such devastating effect.”

Bolstered by the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, Nemanja Vidic and Ferdinand himself, the Manchester United squad of the 2007/08 season went on the win the Premier League, Champions League as well as the Community Shield.

The United midfield was anchored by Scholes and Michael Carrick, similar to Chelsea who have employed N’Golo Kante and Nemanja Matic in that role. The former has been spectacular since moving to England last season, and won the PFA Player of the Year for his exploits this time around.

Kante’s spectacular performances have been a big reason why Chelsea have miraculously turned around their fortunes after what was a gloomy 2015/16 season. The Blues finished 10th last year, but are now only a win away from clinching the Premier League title.

Along with Kante, due credit must also be given to Eden Hazard, who has been equally scintillating for Chelsea this season. The Belgian has scored 15 goals and provided five assists in 33 league games.

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 22: Eden Hazard of Chelsea celebrates scoring his sides third goal with Diego Costa of Chelsea during The Emirates FA Cup Semi-Final between Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley Stadium on April 22, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

LONDON, ENGLAND – APRIL 22: Eden Hazard of Chelsea celebrates scoring his sides third goal with Diego Costa of Chelsea during The Emirates FA Cup Semi-Final between Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley Stadium on April 22, 2017 in London, England. (Photo Courtesy: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

Ferdinand has likened Hazard to former Manchester United teammate and current Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo. Much like the Belgian, Ronaldo too, wreaked havoc down the wings for his team, and was a terror for opposition defenders.

He also stated after Neymar and Hazard are next of kin to take over from Messi and Ronaldo as the world’s best, along with the likes of the La Liga trio Luis Suarez, Gareth Bale and Antoine Griezmann.

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte probably deserves to be at the centre of achievements for the club as it is due to his astute man management skills that the Blues are within touching distance of securing the title.

In October, it did not look like a possibility that Chelsea would be anywhere near winning the Premier League, but Conte shifted to a 3-4-3 formation and managed to get the best out of his players.

The change in system has allowed the Blues to have more bodies while defending while also giving the likes of Eden Hazard, Pedro, Willian and Diego Costa more freedom while attacking. Therefore, it’s no surprise that Chelsea brushed apart every side that came their way, and are now on the cusp of glory.

They beat Middlesbrough 3-0 on Monday, and capitalised on Spurs’ shock defeat against West Ham three days earlier. That saw Chelsea extend their lead to seven points over their London rivals, and with just three matches to go, all they need is another victory to secure the title.

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