Chelsea forward Eden Hazard has brushed off comparisons with Lionel Messi ahead of the Champions League clash against Barcelona.
The Blues host the La Liga leaders in the first leg of the last-16 tie at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday and the game will give Hazard a chance to lock horns with the brilliant Messi, a five-time Ballon d’Or winner.
However, Messi and Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo are both now into their 30s – and the 27-year-old Hazard is one of the names who has been suggested as a potential future candidate for the tag of world’s best player.
When asked about comparisons with Messi on the eve of their west London showdown, Hazard was dismissive – but agreed that such occasions are where big players are expected to shine.
“First it is good to be compared with the greatest ever, but I am completely different,” said Hazard.
“We play in different leagues. I try and do my job, I try to reach that level, their level, because they are the best in the world.
“To play against Messi is always good. I did once in the World Cup (for Belgium v Argentina in 2014) and we lost the game, so I hope tomorrow is going to be different.
“In this kind of game, you need to perform if you want to be one of the best.”
Hazard once again declared himself happy at Chelsea, despite continuing speculation about his future, with Real Madrid reported to be interested.
“First, I see the game tomorrow,” he said. “We are going to face Barca. I have played for Chelsea for six years and I am happy here.
“I have two years left on my contract, I don’t think a lot about the future.”