Maurizio Sarri caused a stir in the media when he said that Chelsea star Eden Hazard was the best player in Europe after a scintillating performance in the 4-1 win over Cardiff City where the Belgian bagged a hat-trick.
Asked whether Hazard is the best player in the Premier League, Sarri said: “Maybe.
“I thought he was one of the best players in Europe, but now I change my mind. He is the best.”
Chelsea hero Pat Nevin also believes Hazard is one of Europe’s greats, and thinks the only thing keeping him behind Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi is the number of goals they tend to score.
Nevin wrote in his column for the official Chelsea website: “Last week I finished this page with the sentence, ‘the quality gap between Eden Hazard and almost every other player on the planet is fairly wide and right now it seems to be growing’. That was before he notched his hat-trick against Cardiff City and Maurizio Sarri proclaimed he might just be the best in the business in Europe right now.
“The gap between Messi or Ronaldo and the likes of Eden Hazard has always come down to goal-scoring ratios and to be fair, those two have phenomenal numbers year in year out. Over their careers it is mind-boggling, Messi has over 620 goals in 770 appearances and Ronaldo has 660 in just over 900 appearances. There have been long periods when they have both been getting more than a goal a game. In fact Ronaldo’s entire Real Madrid career averaged well over a goal every game. These are extraordinary numbers.
“The point with both of those stars is that they went into overdrive in the mid points of their careers in terms of goals scored, and you just wonder if Eden is about to hit a similar purple patch. Five goals already this season for Chelsea, with a couple for Belgium thrown in too and he is already getting close to double figures. We haven’t even reached October yet and that is very exciting.
“Obviously the style of the manager and the system of the team suits him perfectly, but alongside his own personal progression it appears to be the freedom he has been given that has helped as much as anything.
“There are games when the team goes behind and you think, ‘Oh dear, it could be one of those days’, but Saturday just didn’t feel like that, even when Sol Bamba scored the opener for the visitors. There is such confidence that there will be plenty of Chelsea possession, loads of attacks, a plethora of chances, there will also be Eden Hazard and as such, the likelihood of goals as the game progresses. It never even got close to the concerning stage.”
Sarri has urged Hazard to score 40 goals this season, and it might just be that the Belgian is in the form of his life, as he has started the season in blistering form, scoring five goals in five games.