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'Hazard reminds me a lot of Messi' - Belgium boss Martinez pays homage to Chelsea star

14:04 GMT 05/02/2017
Eden Hazard
The Blues forward put in another impressive display against Arsenal on Saturday, drawing comparisons to Barcelona's mercurial Argentine playmaker

Belgium manager Roberto Martinez believes the ability of Chelsea forward Eden Hazard is comparable with Barcelona talisman Lionel Messi easy.

The 26-year-old has been in sparkling form this season, having endured an uncharacteristic dip in 2015-16.

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Hazard had entered that campaign as the reining PFA Player of the Year, with his contribution to a Premier League title-winning cause at Stamford Bridge seeing him mentioned in the same breath as Messi and Real Madrid ace Cristiano Ronaldo.

Hazard is now back at that level, having helped to fire Chelsea to the summit of the English top-flight.

A spectacular solo effort against Arsenal on Saturday had more than a touch of Messi about it, and his national team coach feels the talented playmaker deserves to be placed in such company.

“What he does is quite unique – that acceleration, stop and standing still. He reminds me a lot of Messi,” former Everton boss Martinez told Goals on Sunday.

“Not many players can control the moment and take a defender where you want to take him. The way he uses the ball is sensational.

“What is surprising more than anything is his maturity. Sometimes when you watch a winger or creative player, you think the game will find you. He’s not like that.

“I think Eden, at 26, is almost at the perfect moment in his career and the system that Chelsea plays, which is the same that we play in the national team, really gives him a new breath of life.

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“Last season, as a Premier League manager in the opposition, you were always aware of Eden Hazard and playing left wing it was easier to stop him having one-v-one situations. Now, it’s a lot harder to get him tied down.”

Hazard has netted 10 times for Chelsea this season, while adding three efforts for Belgium in their 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign.