A Chelsea legend has explained why he believes Eden Hazard has failed to reach the heights of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi and become the best footballer in the world.
Messi and Ronaldo are widely considered to be the game's greatest stars of the 21st century, having shared a combined 12 Ballon d'Or titles, as well more than 50 career trophies, between them.
Over the years, there have been a few stars who were tipped to be successors to the pair, including Neymar and Hazard.
The latter has struggled in the past two seasons since making the switch from Chelsea to Real Madrid, however, with some even suggesting he has completely fallen from grace.
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With the Belgian now seen by many to be a shadow of what he once was following his €115 million (R1.9 billion) move to Madrid in 2019, ex-Chelsea star Joe Cole feels he knows why the Los Blancos forward has come up short in his perceived bid to become the best footballer on the planet.
"He should have been the best player in the world," Cole, who played with Hazard at Lille in the 2011/12 campaign, told The Athletic.
"That little spell where Luka Modric won the Ballon d'Or – that should have been Eden Hazard. But he lives his life to be happy. To be content. And there's plenty to be said for that.
"He's a beautiful artist. The best I ever played with. He's not got the mindset of a Ronaldo or a Messi, and that's fine.
"He's given so much joy to Lille and Chelsea fans over the years, and won so many trophies that he should be proud. He achieved it all playing with a smile on his face, enjoying himself.
"I know Real Madrid hasn't worked out, but there is no call for regrets.
"He couldn't have lived a life like Cristiano Ronaldo. You know, ice baths at 1am and all that… that's not him.
"If he had, he probably would have won every personal award out there. But Eden did things his way.
"He's a family man, and there's a real balance to be struck in terms of sporting greatness and your life off the pitch."
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