Eden Hazard: Champions League claim made in Ronaldo and Messi | Football | Sport

That’s according to Leon Osman, who thinks the Belgian should be contending for the Ballon d’Or and says it is a “surprise” he hasn’t already won the award despite the brilliance of Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo and Barcelona icon Lionel Messi.

Eden Hazard has long been tipped to leave Chelsea this summer having been linked with Real Madrid since the World Cup.

The 28-year-old has less than 18 months left on his contract in west London and is expected to become the replacement to Ronaldo, who left Madrid for Juve last summer and has been sorely missed at the Bernabeu, though could cost over £100million.

And ex-Everton midfielder Osman believes very few players across Europe are superior to Hazard, whose loss would surely be felt heavily at Chelsea.

Such is Osman’s opinion of the Belgium captain’s quality that he thinks it is a shock that Hazard has never won the game’s most prestigious individual prize the Ballon d’Or, which has been dominated by superstars Ronaldo and Messi since 2008 although Luka Modric win it last year. 

And the player-turned-pundit believes on the continent is the only major reason Hazard has never provided a greater challenge for the gong, with the forward having won everything at Chelsea but the Champions League.

In the competition, Hazard has returned a disappointing eight goals in 38 games for Chelsea with the club only getting further than the quarter-final stage once in his seven years at Stamford Bridge. 

Osman told Premier League Productions: “Oh absolutely [he’s a potential Ballon d’Or winner Hazard]. It’s probably a surprise that he hasn’t managed to win it already.”

Told that it is perhaps not so surprising given Ronaldo and Messi’s success, “Yeah but even so, he has been absolutely sensational at times. 

“Okay he’s probably had a few dips, a few lapses in form and maybe the fact he hasn’t led Chelsea to European glory or his country to the Euros or World Cup successes is probably what has held him back. 

“Certainly Ronaldo’s managed to do that and that’s probably why they end up getting the rewards.”

On the rumours that Hazard is Madrid-bound, Osman added: “I don’t think he’s replaceable. I think it’s as simple as that. 

“There’s only three or four players in world football that are his standard, consistently. 

“Yes he may not end up with the Premier League Player of the Season this season but over a number of years he’s showed what a top player he is.”

Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane dropped a huge hint that he will look to snap up Hazard this summer earlier this month.

He said: “He’s a player I have always appreciated. He is fantastic.

“I will not give my personal opinion about what may happen because the season has not ended.

“He has played in France, I have watched him a lot and I know him personally.”

And Hazard returned the favour when recently discussing the French boss, who returned to Los Blancos last month for his second stint in charge after winning three Champions Leagues in as many seasons in his first spell as head coach.

“I am not a Real Madrid player but as a supporter of Zidane, I was very happy that he came back because football needs Zidane,” Hazard told RMC Sport. 

“For Real it is good, for the supporters of Real it is good. But for the other teams, a bit less because Real Madrid with Zinedine Zidane win a lot, so it will be difficult.”

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