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Is Eden Hazard the new Gianfranco Zola?

TR Updated

Roberto Di Matteo heaps praise on summer signing Eden Hazard.

The Chelsea manager says that he can go on to become a Chelsea legend in the same bracket as Gianfranco Zola.

From the moment Hazard signed for £32m in the summer following plenty of speculation, there was much excitement about his first performances in a Chelsea shirt. The 21-year-old didn't disappoint either, showing his class as the Blues defeated Wigan 2-0.

In the first few minutes of his Premier League debut, Hazard assisted Chelsea's opener and won a penalty for their second. They say you should start as you mean to go on and Hazard certainly did that.

There is now even more expectation on the player's young shoulders, but Chelsea boss Roberto Di Matteo clearly believes he can handle it as he has compared the Belgium international to Blues legend Zola.

Ahead of Hazard's home debut against Reading tonight, Di Matteo said: "Gianfranco was a wonderful talent, an artist - Eden might become an artist as well."

"After one game, it's probably a bit too early, but he had a good start. He's a talented man, a talented young boy. We'll have to see how he grows into a man, and how quickly he will be an important player for Chelsea."

One thing that comes across from Hazard more than anything – other than his fantastic talent of course – appears to be his ability to live up to expectation. He knows he is a good player and uses it to be even more affective when he crosses the white line.

Chelsea and Hazard suit each other perfectly too. He fits into the system they like to play, fills a void they have had in midfield and has been adored by the fans from day one. It just fits.

There are many top European clubs that would like Hazard in their side too, but he chose Chelsea and both parties will want to justify this decision with major trophies. Priority one is to be in contention at the top of the Premier League before the defence of their European title begins next month.

As mentioned, the Blues take on Reading at Stamford Bridge this evening and they are expected to pick up three points. Hazard may even be a good shout to get his first goal for the club as he aims to show the passionate home crowd what he is capable of.

Reading midfielder Mikele Leigertwood is set to come face to face with the new Chelsea midfielder this evening and he has jokingly suggested that to 'kick him' is the only way to stop Hazard.

Hazard isn't Chelsea's only threat though and this is perhaps why Di Matteo's men look like a good shout for the title this year. They have the ever reliable Frank Lampard, the in-form Fernando Torres and Brazilian wonder kid Oscar – amongst plenty others.

It should be a cracking match tonight with many ready to cast another watchful eye on a potential Chelsea legend.

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