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Former Liverpool striker Peter Crouch has finally revealed a conversation he had with Chelsea great Joe Cole about Eden Hazard in 2011.

Joe Cole played with Hazard in the French league during a loan spell at Lille.

According to Crouch, Cole revealed in a conversation in 2011 that Hazard is the best player he has ever played with.

Hazard finally joined Chelsea in 2012 and the Belgian captain has enjoyed a fine start to the season, scoring six goals in just seven games for Chelsea.

“Joe Cole was excited when we spoke,” Crouch told Daily Mail. “It was the autumn of 2011 and he was on a season long-loan at Lille. There was something he’d said to me.

“’This kid,’ he said, ‘is the best player I have played with — ever. He’s got the potential to be the best I have ever seen.’

Eden Hazard and Joe Cole during their time at Lille

“Joe was talking about a lad called Eden Hazard but I didn’t know much about the French league and hadn’t heard of him. I didn’t give it much thought.

“I had a good relationship with Joe from our time playing for England. He’s a good lad and I’ve always listened to what he said. When I saw Hazard’s goal against Liverpool on Wednesday, I thought back to what Joe said.

“I knew as soon as I saw Hazard play for Chelsea in 2012 that he was special and now he is operating at the peak of his powers. He is absolutely one of the best in the world.

“That was the type of strike you would see from Cristiano Ronaldo. The dribble, which included two nutmegs, to tee the opportunity up was reminiscent of Lionel Messi. If he keeps operating at those levels, we will be able to compare him to those two masters.

“I don’t think he is as obsessed with scoring as those two but in terms of ability, he is not a poor relation. When you are on a pitch against him, he will do things that blow your mind; the quality of his close control and touch is just ridiculous.

“Hazard makes defenders think they have got a chance of taking the ball off him but, in a flash, he will move it away and that is why he ends up being fouled so much. I love the way he keeps getting up, he just wants to get on with the game.

“I’m looking forward to watching him play again tonight. I think Liverpool are a better team than Chelsea and have lots of players who can make things happen but Hazard is a pure matchwinner and he will want to cause mayhem again.

“We are lucky to have a player of his calibre in the Premier League and I think this is going to be a big, big season for him. If he carries on as he has started, the PFA awards at the end of the season may turn into a landslide.”

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