'Hazard the best I ever played with' - Cole backs Chelsea star to win Ballon d'Or

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The pair played together for a season at Lille before the Belgium international swapped Ligue 1 for the Premier League and Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea's Eden Hazard is destined to win the Ballon d'Or in the near future, according to former team-mate Joe Cole.

Hazard, a 12th place finisher in the Goal 50, is among the nominees for the world footballer of the year prize which will be awarded on December 3.

Cole played alongside Hazard while on loan at Lille during the 2011-12 season - the Belgian's final campaign in Ligue 1 before he moved to Chelsea.

The former England international regards the winger as the best player he has played with during his 20-year-old professional career, which came to an end earlier this week.

And though Luka Modric, Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe are the leading contenders for the 2018 award, Cole says it won't be long before Hazard is held in equal esteem.

"All the English players. [Steven] Gerrard, Frank [Lampard], JT [John Terry], Wazza [Wayne Rooney]," the ex-West Ham, Liverpool, Aston Villa and Coventry man told Sky Sports when asked to name the best player he has ever shared a dressing room with.

"Then you have the foreign players, [Arjen] Robben, Hazard; I could go on forever. But you realise you're playing with absolute geniuses.

"If my life depended on it and I had to pick one I still think it is Hazard is the best I've played with.

"He was 19 in France and he was just so talented. I look at players and try to break them down into what they've got and he just had everything.

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"But also the stuff that is unquantifiable. His heart, what he was about in games, was he there in the big moments? He was just a great player.

"I think he'll go on to become the Ballon d'or winner at some point, he's that good."

Hazard will be back in action for Belgium on Sunday as they take on Switzerland in the UEFA Nations League before returning to domestic action with Chelsea on November 24 when they face Tottenham at Wembley Stadium.

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