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Chelsea v Newcastle United

Hazard joins Messi as Europe's most effective players in 2018-19

6:21 am AEDT 13/1/19
Eden Hazard Chelsea 2018-19
The Chelsea star teed up another goal during a clash with Newcastle, seeing him join Barcelona's talisman in double figures for strikes and assists

Chelsea forward Eden Hazard is the only man to have matched Barcelona talisman Lionel Messi in terms of reaching double figures for goals and assists this season.

The Belgium international has been in breathtaking form during the 2018-19 campaign.

He was eased back into domestic action after helping his country to a third-place finish at the World Cup finals in Russia.

Maurizio Sarri was eager to avoid asking too much, too soon of a key figure in his plans.

Hazard, though, burst out of the blocks by netting 12 times for Chelsea and Belgium across as many appearances.

Eight of those efforts came in club competition, with a further four recorded since – with 10 strikes registered in the Premier League.

The 28-year-old has also contributed a steady stream of assists to the Blues cause.

He entered a meeting with Newcastle having teed up nine goals for grateful team-mates.

Another was then delivered for Willian as Sarri’s side locked horns with the Magpies at Stamford Bridge.

To be matching Messi in terms of productivity is some achievement for Hazard.

He has been placed in a talent bracket alongside the global elite over recent years, but has faced questions regarding his ability to produce on a consistent basis.

There have been dips again this season, including a 12-game run without a goal for club and country, but greater end product is being delivered.

And the current campaign could prove to be his most productive to date.

Hazard’s highest tally of goals for Chelsea stands at 19, from 2014-15, while he mustered a personal best 11 assists during his debut season with the club in 2012-13.

There is the promise of more to come from him, and Sarri needs a star man to deliver.

The Blues have forced their way back into the Premier League’s top four, but have work to do if they are to stay there and secure a return to Champions League competition.