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Gianfranco Zola lit the Premier League two decades ago playing for Chelsea and stunning fans with his scintillating moves and skill.

Zola is rated as one of Chelsea’s greatest legends for his dedication and more importantly performance during his time at the club.

Now assistant manager of the club, Zola has revealed the similarity he shares with Chelsea star Eden Hazard.

“I was very much like Eden,” stated Zola.

“I was an instinctive player. I liked to have the freedom to move around the pitch, to find the spots where I could receive the ball, turn and cause damage to the opposition.

“I believe we try to give him this freedom. Also, we are trying to be an organised team, defensively and offensively, but especially defensively. That’s why we ask Eden sometimes to put himself about and work hard.

“I know it’s not his best quality. We understand sometimes he needs to be fresh when he receives the ball. There is no doubt we are on the same page. We want to find a common ground where he can get the best out of himself, and also the team can benefit from him not only scoring goals, but also when we need everybody to press and defend.”

After the 2-0 defeat to Arsenal last weekend, Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri was critical of the Belgian’s performance, insisting that his potential outweighs his performance.

Zola has now explained what the Blues boss meant with that statement.

“Maurizio said he believes the potential is greater than the performance,” Zola added.

“He is not saying he is not happy with what Eden is doing; he just believes he can do more for himself and the team. We need to try and get him as close as possible to what he did on Thursday, but we know to do that every single game is impossible.”

Hazard will be delighted with the signing of Gonzalo Higuain as he wouldn’t have to play as a striker anymore, and Zola believes the two will do well together.

Revealing how playing with a big forward helped him and how it’ll help Hazard, Zola said: “Towards the end of my career in Cagliari I played in a different positon, but also in Parma when I played alongside [Faustino] Asprilla. We were two false nines. It’s a position where you get a lot of balls. I enjoyed it.

“When I first came here I had Mark Hughes, or Luca Vialli. When I could play off them it was much better. It gave me space and freedom. I would use their physicality to get the spaces I wanted.

“Eden has a very good understanding with Olivier Giroud, and I am sure he will pick up the same good understanding with Gonzalo [Higuain].”

About the Author

Chelsea is more than just a football club to me; it's a passion I share, and my affinity with the Chelsea badge is one that will last forever. As far as watching my favourite team is concerned, I'd rather miss a meal than miss a Chelsea game.