Jose Mourinho raised plenty of eyebrows when he discussed Chelsea’s Eden Hazard in the same breath as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Waxing lyrical over the Hazard’s gifts on the day the 24-year-old was presented with the PFA Player of the Year award, Mourinho suggested:
“He knows he is one of the best three players in the world.”
The Belgian lags well behind Messi and Ronaldo in terms of both goals and assists in their respective leagues this season.
However, there are six metrics on which he not only occupies the same planet as the two men he himself referred to not so long ago as ‘extra terrestrials’, but outperforms them.
Minutes played may seem like a hollow stat on which to best the big two, but Hazard’s ability to stay injury free and available will be a formidable asset in his quest to achieve level footing in the pantheon with the big two.
Likewise, the fact that he is caught offside far less often than the Barcelona and Real Madrid men speaks positively of his awareness and discipline.
Defensively he outworks the super-galacticos, making more tackles and more interceptions in league action this term.
It’s not just in terms of meat and potatoes diligence and durability that he has outperformed Messi and Ronaldo this season however.
Hazard has skinned his man more times than either otherworldly dribbler and his opponents have been forced to resort to illegal means to halt his incursions more often.
Chelsea face Crystal Palace this weekend knowing that victory will seal the Premier League title.
The Blues are priced up at 9/25 to achieve their goal, with the draw 15/4 and the Palace victory a 7/1 shot.
Hazard, meanwhile, is 6/5 to net at Stamford Bridge and 8/5 to do so as part of a Blues victory.
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