Eden Hazard was included on the 23-man shortlist for the prestigious FIFA Ballon d’Or, before being cut when the list was whittled down to just three star names.
He may have missed out to Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo, Barcelona’s Lionel Messi and Bayern Munich’s Manuel Neuer, but they are two of the finest players of all time and a World Cup-winning goalkeeper.
Hazard will be happy to have been recognised in the first place, with his efforts for Chelsea drawing widespread acclaim.
Jose Mourinho has led the praise, with the Blues boss announcing in November that he considers his Belgian forward to be ‘the best’ player at his disposal.
He has previously labelled Hazard as the finest young player on the planet, and the 23-year-old is backing up his manager’s words on the field in Premier League and European competition.
During the group stages of the 2014/15 Champions League, when the best in the business go head-to-head, Chelsea’s talented playmaker has shown that he is deserving of a standing alongside the Ronaldos and Messis of this world.
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Only the leading lights from La Liga can claim to have troubled the target on more occasions in Europe this season, with Hazard showing that he can be influential in the final third.
It is, however, impossible to ignore the fact that he has been unable to turn chances into goals as often as he would have liked.
Ronaldo and Messi continue to set that particular benchmark and it is now up to Hazard, and the numerous other pretenders to their crown, to prove that they too can become talismanic figures on the grandest of stages.