Hazard is almost at Messi's level - Eto'o

Eden Hazard Lionel Messi Real Madrid Barcelona
The Cameroonian forward believes Los Blancos' big-name signing is nearly at the standard required to be considered the best player in the world

Former Barcelona striker Samuel Eto’o believes that Real Madrid’s new signing Eden Hazard is "close" to the level of Lionel Messi.

Belgian forward Hazard joined Los Blancos from Chelsea in a €100 million (£88m/$112m) deal after an impressive individual season in which he largely carried the Blues going forward, scoring 16 goals and registering 15 assists from 37 Premier League appearances - contributing directly to 31 of his side’s 63 goals.

Eto’o has played for both Chelsea and Barcelona and feels that the 28-year-old should be aiming to win the Ballon d’Or during his time as at the Bernabeu.

"Hazard has to win the Ballon d'Or," Eto’o told Radio Marca.

"He hasn't been valued enough but now he's at one of the best teams in the world all eyes will be on him.

"He's close to Messi's level and I hope that he plays Barcelona when he's not at 100 percent."

Hazard’s haul of 21 goals and 17 assists in all competitions last term is certainly eye-catching, but the Belgian has some way to go if he is to match Messi’s phenomenal number.

The Argentine superstar racked up a whopping 51 goals and 22 assists from just 50 appearances across all competitions last season.

Eto’o, now plying his trade in Qatar, also commented on the transfer speculation linking Barcelona with a move for Neymar, having already completed a deal for Atletico Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann.

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The Brazilian formed one third of a fearsome attacking trident alongside Messi and Luis Suarez, and, albeit accepting the complexities of a potential deal, they are now keen on taking him back to Camp Nou.

"If [Neymar] returns home, it'll be good for the project and the future," Eto’o said.

Neymar managed 105 goals for Barcelona before becoming the most expensive player in history when he moved to Paris Saint-Germain, but he does not appear to be as vital to the Ligue 1 champions’ project as he once was given the stellar rise of Kylian Mbappe.