Barkley can become the best midfielder in the world, says Chelsea team-mate Hazard

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The England international has enjoyed an impressive start to the season and now appears back to full fitness under Maurizio Sarri

Ross Barkley has the ability to become the best midfielder in the world, according to his Chelsea team-mate Eden Hazard.

Former Everton midfielder Barkley’s stock has been on the rise ever since Maurizio Sarri walked through the door of Cobham Training Ground after becoming Chelsea's manager in the summer.

The 24-year-old has received his first call-up to the England squad in 18 months after a long-term injury saw him become something of a forgotten figure in the Premier League last season.

His return to full fitness, and Sarri's use of Barkley, saw him earn his sixth start of the season in Sunday’s 3-0 win over Southampton, where he helped his side to victory with a goal and an assist, and Hazard was impressed to see his team-mate making an impact.

"He played a fantastic game today," Hazard said at St Mary's Stadium. "Of course, it is not just because he scored and got an assist. I think he is strong, you can see on the pitch that he is very strong. He had some bad moments last year and two years ago with injury but I think he can reach a fantastic level because he is a fantastic player.

"I remember that I was watching him at Everton. So, he is still young, I think he is a good player for the future of Chelsea. When you have confidence, you play more often. At the moment, he is playing, he played in the Europa League and today. He is playing 75 minutes.

"Confidence comes when you play games. So, I think he is a fantastic player. I think Ross, if you give him the freedom to play and the confidence on the pitch that he can be one of the best in the world in midfield. He is strong, powerful, can dribble, he is clever, shoot and score.

"He has everything to be the best. I think he is a fantastic midfielder and, if he has the players around him to help him play, then he can be one of the best."

Barkley's performance on the south coast was arguably his best display in a Chelsea shirt, although Sarri did suggest in his post-match press conference that he played better in the Carabao Cup win over Liverpool.

Meanwhile, Hazard also registered a goal and an assist in the same game, and he has undoubtedly become an even more dangerous attacking force for Chelsea this season.

His goal was his eighth of the season in all competitions and he has now been involved in 12 goals, scoring nine times and providing three assists, in his last 11 games for Chelsea.

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Hazard believes that it is the best style of football he has played in a Chelsea shirt, saying: "I think that this is the best [style of football].

"We had some great results in the past, so I can't say that the managers before weren't good, but I think in terms of football and the way we are playing. Yes, this is the best football.

"It is similar to how we played in France with Lille. A lot of pass and move. Movement from the team. Then we also have good players in our team so that's why we are playing this great football."

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