Juan Mata has described his former Chelsea teammate Eden Hazard as the best player in Premier League history.
The 29-year-old Belgian forward completed an £88.5m move from Stamford Bridge to record 13-time European champions Real Madrid last summer.
Eden Hazard in the Premier League: Five key stats…
- Appearances: 245
- Goals: 85
- Assists: 54
- Titles: 2 (2014/15 and 2016/17)
- Key stat: Hazard averaged a goal or assist every 99 minutes in the Premier League for Chelsea.
It ended an illustrious seven-year association with the Blues during which time he’d bag two Premier League winners’ medals as well as being named the PFA Players’ Player of the Year in 2015.
Hazard, a predominantly left-sided forward though capable of playing across various attacking positions, finished his time at Chelsea having amassed 110 goals and 92 assists in 352 appearances across all competitions.
His name is often brought up in the conversation discussing the league’s best-ever players, due to registering 85 goals and 54 assists in 245 games, and Manchester United midfielder Mata — who played 69 matches alongside him at the west London club — feels he’s the first among equals.
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“The best Premier League player, I mean, I used to love to play with, and against, Eden Hazard,” he said.
“For me, for many years, he was the best in the league. He could win games by himself. I used to train with him and I know how good he can be.
“Other than him, we’ve had many players. You can speak about the history of the Premier League and you can maybe put some of my ex-team-mates like Wayne Rooney — he has to be up there. Ryan Giggs has to be up there, and Paul Scholes.
“My ex-team-mates from Chelsea: [Frank] Lampard, [John] Terry, [Didier] Drogba. It’s very difficult to pick one.”
Eden Hazard has been “unlucky” at Real Madrid, says Mata
Since completing his dream move to Real, it’s fair to say Hazard hasn’t exactly set the world alight. His signature was seen in some quarters as the club’s first major ‘galactico’ signing for a while.
However, after starting tentatively in the famous white jersey, following his recovery from a serious hamstring injury, he suffered another blow — a foot injury which has restricted him to a total of 15 appearances for Zinedine Zidane’s team.
To date, he’s provided four assists and scored one goal himself, but Mata believes it will not be long before the real Hazard shows up.
He added: “He has been very unlucky in his time with Real Madrid with some injuries, but I’m sure he’ll show his real level when he’s fit to do that and he’s not injured.”