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Chelsea v Watford

‘Hazard behind Messi & Ronaldo because he’s unselfish’ – Chelsea star hailed by Premier League rival Hughes

23:02 GMT+4 04/05/2019
Lionel Messi Eden Hazard Cristiano Ronaldo
The Belgium international forward is held in the highest regard by a Watford playmaker who will be going head-to-head with the Blues star on Sunday

Chelsea forward Eden Hazard only sits behind Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in the global pecking order because he is “unselfish”, says Watford midfielder Will Hughes.

The Belgium international on the Blues’ books is considered to form part of world football’s elite, as his consistency across many years has cemented a standing alongside the very best players on the planet.

Hazard is, however, considered to sit just short of the levels achieved by two five-time Ballon d’Or winners on the books at Barcelona and Juventus and Hughes believes that is because the 28-year-old is more of a team player.

A man set to lock horns with Hazard in Premier League competition at Stamford Bridge on Sunday told Watford’s official website: “His [Hazard’s] agility and the way he moves the ball so quickly in tight spaces is different class. Sometimes you have to just admire him.

“The reason he’s not talked about like Messi and Ronaldo is because he’s unselfish, he’d rather pass it to a team-mate, which people don’t notice as much.

“They’re a quality team with great players, so we have to be on our game 100 per cent, but we know we’ve got good players as well who can hurt them.

“They’ve got pressures themselves, they want to be in the top four so they have massive things to play for, but we do too and we’re going to go there and treat it as a big game.”

Hazard and Chelsea have worked themselves in the Champions League places.

They cemented that standing with a 1-1 draw away at fellow top-four hopefuls Manchester United in their last domestic outing.

Maurizio Sarri’s side could yet suffer an untimely tumble down the standings, but they do have another route to elite continental competition available to them.

They are through to the semi-finals of the Europa League and claimed a priceless away goal in the first leg of a last-four showdown with Eintract Frankfurt that finished 1-1.

While they are chasing down European silverware, Hughes and Watford have their sights set on a domestic trophy.

They are into the FA Cup final, where they will be looking to deny Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City another major honour.