Chelsea's Eden Hazard insists he is not on the same level as Barcelona 'artist' Lionel Messi

James Benge
Star man: But Hazard admits he is not on the same level as Messi: Getty Images

Eden Hazard has admitted he still has some way to go in his pursuit of the “artistry” of Lionel Messi in spite of his exceptional recent form at Chelsea.

The 26-year-old has rediscovered the form that made him the 2015 player of the year and a target for Real Madrid under Antonio Conte this season as the creative heart of the table-topping Chelsea side.

Hazard may have been in exceptional form this season but few would argue he ranks alongside the game’s current star duo – Barcelona’s Messi and his Real Madrid rival Cristiano Ronaldo – and the Chelsea forward accepted that he could not yet be compared to the Argentine artist.

“For me, the real artists are [Zinedine] Zidane and Ronaldinho. [Juan Roman] Riquelme as well for the way he moves and passes the ball," Hazard told France Football.

“And then there is Messi. What he does with the ball is something else. I do not see myself at that level. It is up to others to make such comments. I am not going to proclaim myself an artist like him.”

Though he may not be on Messi’s level Hazard has undoubtedly been one of the Premier League’s star attractions this season, scoring 11 goals and providing five assists in 27 league games.

He is likely to do battle with Chelsea team-mate N’Golo Kante for individual prizes but says that his focus is on giving Blues fans something to cheer about on their visits to Stamford Bridge.

“I just want to bring happiness to the fans,” he added. “The people who come to the stadium want to enjoy themselves and see a spectacle. It is up to us, the players, to make them happy.

“I have been a creative player ever since I was a child. You cannot practice it. Of course, I have worked hard to get where I am, but it is a skill I have that I have improved. It is natural to me. But you have to do it at the right time.

“The ball is my friend. We go way back. He is my most faithful friend. I caress the ball, but that is not always easy when I dribble. I can caress it when I shoot, like Thierry Henry.

“I can treat the ball like a woman, like a friend, like an elderly person.”