Football News

Eden Hazard: I only saw one who was better than me

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 14:30, 7 February 2024

Eden Hazard has named Lionel Messi the only player better than him during his illustrious career.

The 33-year-old forward became a free agent last summer after leaving Real Madrid but has since decided to hang up his boots.

Before joining Los Blancos, the 126-time capped Belgian international enjoyed a trophy-laden period at Chelsea, where he lifted two Premier League titles and was named PFA Players’ Player of the Year in 2014/15.

Although the prestigious Ballon d’Or eluded Hazard, he feels just one sits above him regarding pure footballing terms.

“Individually, Messi is perhaps the only one,” he told L’Equipe.

“I loved watching the Barcelona player, less so at the end, but he’s the greatest in history. It’s impossible to take the ball away from him.

“Cristiano is a bigger player than me but, in terms of pure football, I honestly don’t think so. Neymar, maybe.

“After that, he’s no better than me, but at Real, you’ve got the best, also in terms of their careers: Benzema, Modric, they were the best, Kroos, Kev’ (De Bruyne), they all exude football.”

King of the Dribble

Hazard netted 85 goals and created 54 more across 245 appearances for the West London club. Only four players, all out-and-out strikers, reached 50 Premier League goals for Chelsea in fewer appearances than Hazard (155 games), who reached the milestone in 29 fewer games than fellow club icon Frank Lampard.

As a creative force, Hazard supplied no fewer than 595 goalscoring chances for his teammates in the Premier League during his time at Stamford Bridge between August 2012 and May 2019, 208 more than any other Chelsea player.

Hazard claimed the 2018/19 Playmaker Award with 15 assists in the Premier League, adding to his 16 goals. This feat made him one of just four players in Premier League history to register 15+ goals and 15+ assists in a single season, after Thierry Henry (24 goals, 20 assists in 2002/03), Matt Le Tissier (19 goals, 15 assists in 1994/95) and Eric Cantona (15 goals, 16 assists in 1992/93).

It was the second time Hazard had achieved 15+ goals and 15+ assists for Lille in his last campaign for the Ligue 1 side in 2011/12. Only one other player has scored 15+ goals and provided 15+ assists in multiple big-five Europe league seasons, with Hazard alongside Lionel Messi.

During his time in the Premier League, Hazard completed a ridiculous 916 take-ons, more than any other player in the division. To put this in even further perspective, he attempted (1441) and completed (909) more dribbles than any other player.

He completed 100+ take-ons in five separate Premier League seasons, including 181 in 2014/15, when he combined that with 100 chances created (98 of which were from open play). This ability subsequently allowed the Belgian to draw more fouls than anyone (638).