Only Messi and Ronaldo better than Eden Hazard, says brother Thorgan
The Belgian thinks his brother is performing wonders under Antonio Conte this season, but feels he still trails two of the world’s best
Thorgan Hazard believes that his brother Eden is bringing the ‘wow’ factor to Chelsea this season, but concedes his sibling is still short of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi’s level.
The Chelsea forward scored a sensational goal against Arsenal to help seal a 3-1 win at Stamford Bridge for the Blues against their London rivals at the weekend.
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But Thorgan, who left Chelsea to sign a permanent deal with Gladbach in 2015, thinks his brother might have to wait for Ronaldo and Messi to get older before he can win his first Ballon d’Or.
“Yes, everybody thinks Eden has the potential to become the world’s best player,” Hazard told Goal. “But we have at the moment two [exceptional] players in Ronaldo and Messi. They are very strong so maybe Eden will have to wait a little bit until they stop or when they are really old!
“He could become the best – for me, he is already one of the best. I want to see him go third on the [Ballon d’Or] list one day soon and I think he’ll do it. I think a lot of people when they saw Eden playing, they go ‘wow what a player!’
“He’s strong, but with the ball he is fast and has all the abilities of a great player. When I saw the game against Everton, I loved seeing him play like that – sometimes he is fantastic and that is the life for him.”
Under Conte, Eden is now playing closer to goal, with his new boss having switched to a 3-4-3 formation which has gotten the best out of the Belgian and seen Chelsea top the Premier League table.
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Meanwhile, Thorgan is going from strength to strength in his own career and starred in his side’s 3-0 victory against Freiburg at the weekend. He is one of three Hazard brothers playing professional football, including Kylian Hazard at Ujpest in Hungary, but doesn’t feel overshadowed by his older brother at Chelsea.
“I like playing with the national team [with my brother], it is great,” He added. “For a long time Eden has shown me the right path in football and I try to follow him. I worked really hard in my club to get a chance in the national team with Eden.
“I hope now, as the little brother, I can aim for the same things as well in the national team, so I work hard. To have three brothers in the squad would be great, but I don’t feel the pressure from Eden. It is like this since I was 14 years old so it isn’t pressure, it is normal.”
“We try to play good football – I like to play central. Eden can play more on the left or right side. Kylian can also play a bit more left or right, but for me I like to play central.
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“Look at me now though and I am also playing on the left side so, yes, we like to play in attack. This is the Hazard way! We try to score and we try to assist and be exciting.”
All three of the Hazard brothers are attacking midfielders at their clubs, while both their parents, Thierry and Carine, were also footballers. His youngest brother Ethan, aged 13, has yet to decide whether he wants a career in football, but plays at amateur level.
Thorgan likes to travel back to Belgium where he often meets up with his brother and he thinks that Conte has gotten more out of his sibling than others have in previous seasons in west London.
“I think that he found a new way – a bit like when Chelsea were champions two years ago and Eden was also fantastic. Maybe he needed to change his position, change some things and Conte has found the solution and he is playing very well. Congratulations Conte!”
THAT goal from Eden Hazard against Arsenal #cfc #afc #chelsea #chelseafc #hazard pic.twitter.com/WqTLZ6MVqM
— Goal (@goal) February 5, 2017
“Maybe it was a mistake to want to continue, but he wanted to help the team because they needed him. Even when he was only 60%-70% he still played. Now, it is not an issue.
“The team play fantastic football. They have confidence and I can see them continuing to play very strongly this year – and Eden is more free and scoring more goals.”
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Eden has been used as a back up striker to Diego Costa this season at Chelsea and Thorgan wants to make “false nine” his long-term position at Gladbach as he aims to carve his own path in football.
“It depends how the coach sets up and which tactics they chose but I like to play central,” he continued. “I like to play No.10 or as a false nine. I can also play left and I can play right.
“For me, the most important thing is for me to play but I think my best position is near the goal. I like to be offensive, but sometimes when the team needs to defend and go back a little bit… then I like to also go back and help out.
“It is a question of the system we chose when we face a team. Every game is different and I can be flexible. For the moment, the coach has me on the left side or right side, on the wings. We have a lot of freedom at the front and the coach says that we can go right, left or central.
“We swap positions and all the attacking players can change their positions. I think it is good also because we are difficult to mark. I like this club and I like this team.”
Gladbach had a difficult start to the season but have returned to form in recent weeks to claim a midtable spot in the Bundesliga table, and Hazard is expected to be a key player as they compete in the DFB-Pokal and Europa League in the coming weeks.