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Chelsea star Eden Hazard has been linked with a summer move to Real Madrid with his contract due to expire in the summer of 2020.

Former Liverpool and Tottenham striker Peter Crouch has urged Chelsea to keep the Belgian at all costs because he is close to Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in terms of raw ability.

“What happens if he leaves? Every worried Chelsea fan is asking the question about Eden Hazard as the end of the season draws near,” Crouch told Daily Mail.

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

“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.

“If he ends up at Real Madrid — the only club he could possibly join — there are two ways to look at it.

“First, players such as Callum Hudson-Odoi, Ross Barkley, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Christian Pulisic, who is joining this summer from Borussia Dortmund, could all flourish and take their games a step further without Hazard around.

“I know how it is to be in a team that has a stand-out player. There were world-class players at Liverpool in my three years but we all knew that an easy thing to do was to give the ball to Steven Gerrard in the expectation of him producing some magic.

“It was the same at Tottenham with Gareth Bale. Again, we had a brilliant team but you didn’t think twice about pushing the ball out to him on the left and watching him take off like a rocket. Chelsea’s players will understandably think the same with Hazard.

“Then, however, there is the second situation. When a top player leaves a club there is a hangover that is difficult to shake. Liverpool had it with Xabi Alonso in 2009 and Luis Suarez in 2014. Spurs had it when Bale joined Real Madrid in 2013.

“Both sides have recovered but how would Chelsea cope? Jurgen Klopp described him this week as ‘one of the world’s best’ and with a transfer ban looming there would be no way of filling that gap. The Premier League would be poorer without him but the impact on Chelsea would be huge.

“They should give him whatever he wants to keep him. Chelsea are fighting for a top-four place on the back of what Hazard has done.

“He has provided the light for their supporters in this difficult 12 months. If he goes the light for many fans will go out.”

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