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Crouch: “Hazard isn’t far behind Messi & Ronaldo”

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Eden Hazard isn’t far from matching Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo when it comes to natural ability, says Peter Crouch.

The Belgian winger has been in scintillating form this season and took his tally up to 19 goals after scoring a brace in Chelsea’s 2-0 Premier League win over West Ham on Monday.

Blues team-mate Baba Rahman has even tipped Hazard as a future Ballon d’Or winner on the back of another campaign where he’s terrorised defences in England with his pace and dribbling skills.

And former Liverpool striker Crouch, who now plays for Burnley in the Premier League, reckons the 28-year-old is not far off Messi and Ronaldo now.

“I watched Hazard dance his way around West Ham’s defenders on Monday night and, once again, he had me out of my seat,” Crouch wrote on his Daily Mail column.

“It looks amazing on TV but, believe me, to do something like he did at Stamford Bridge gets even more appreciation from those within the game.

“The speed, the pace, the electric burst through tight spaces and the finish were just breathtaking.

“He is not as consistent as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in terms of scoring goals but he really isn’t far behind when it comes to natural ability.”

He added: “Hazard has been involved in 28 Premier League goals so far this season – 16 goals, 12 assists – which is the best tally by a distance in our division. Only Messi (45) and Kylian Mbappe (33) can better his total in Europe.

“We might see him on our TVs all the time but we shouldn’t be immune to his brilliance. He should be in the conversation for the PFA award.

“I know some supporters who go to every game at Stamford Bridge and they say Hazard has been the only one who has given them enjoyment this season.

“Their concerns, then, are clear and understandable.”

Hazard will be looking to continue his fine form ahead of Chelsea’s trip to Anfield on Sunday to take on Premier League leaders Liverpool.

LONDON, ENGLAND – APRIL 08: Eden Hazard of Chelsea in action during the Premier League match between Chelsea FC and West Ham United at Stamford Bridge on April 08, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)