Buffon: Chelsea forward Eden Hazard is one of the top five players in world football

Buffon: Chelsea forward Eden Hazard is one of the top five players in world football

Gianluigi Buffon expects Antonio Conte to make Chelsea one of the Champions League’s toughest competitors next season, while also hailing Eden Hazard as one of the world’s best players.

Conte guided Chelsea to the Premier League title in his first season at Stamford Bridge and has also taken the Blues back into Europe’s elite competitions.

The Italian coach won three Serie A titles with Juventus and Buffon believes Conte will be able to work his magic with Chelsea in the Champions League.

The 39-year-old – who is set to take on Real Madrid with Juventus in the Champions League final on Saturday – has also hailed Hazard as in the top echelon of world footballers.

Speaking to the Mirror Buffon said: “He can make Chelsea strong in Europe – that is for sure.

“They already have players like Hazard who, for me, is already one of the top five players in the world, and this summer I’m sure they will bring in more quality.

“Much has been spoken about how passionate and fiery Conte can be, which is true, but the reality is he gets so much from his players because he gives so much.

“He will never switch off from the game. Even now, I’m sure he is lying on a beach with his family but he will be thinking about next season, trying to sign new players, how the team can improve. He gives everything.

“Next season, under Conte, I expect that Chelsea will be one of the big challenges in the Champions League. Then coaches like Pep (Guardiola) and (Jose) Mourinho, who have had a lot of success in Europe, will also be strong. It will be their second season with their clubs and they can also challenge.”

Chelsea have only won the Champions League once, lifting the trophy in the 2011-2012 after besting Bayern Munich on penalties in the final.

Hazard meanwhile has enjoyed a productive season with the Blues, netting 16 goals in the Premier League to help the club to a fifth league title in 12 years.

Eden Hazard won 78% of his take-ons in the Premier League this season