Chelsea’s Eden Hazard will be a Premier League star – Rafael Benítez

Rafael Benítez backs Chelsea playmaker Eden Hazard to develop into one of the Premier League's top players in years to come

eden hazard
Eden Hazard was a second-half substitute at Old Trafford on Sunday Photo: TSR

eden hazard

Rafael Benítez has backed Chelsea’s Eden Hazard to develop into one of the Premier League’s top players in seasons to come.

The 22-year-old Belgium international, who joined the Blues for around £32m from Lille last summer, has hit the ground running in the English top flight, netting 11 goals in all competitions and providing his team-mates with 16 assists.

Hazard’s curling effort against Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday set Chelsea on their way to a second-half comeback to earn an FA Cup quarter-final replay against the Premier League leaders.

Benítez has been encouraged by the midfielder’s displays for the Blues and believes he will continue to impress as he adjusts to the rigours of the Premier League.

“We knew that he was a great player,” said the Chelsea interim boss. “It’s his first year in the Premier League. It’s a different competition with different intensity [to Ligue 1]. But still you can see that he is doing really well.

“The main thing now is that he has to carry on doing the same things that he did other day [against United] in every game and that means that he will be a very important player in the Premier League.”

Hazard, capped 32 times by Belgium, scored 50 goals in 192 appearances for Lille before sealing a transfer to Stamford Bridge last June.

And Blues defender Cesar Azpilicueta was also full of praise for Hazard following his second-half cameo display at Old Trafford.

He said: “The impact he had in the last game was very important for the team because when he came on the pitch he made a difference with the brilliant goal he scored.

“We know he is a very good player. I knew him from when he was in France. These kind of players can make the difference all the time and I am relieved he is on our side.”

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