On a weekend of intense sports drama, Antonio Rudiger has upped the ante by saying only Lionel Messi is better than Chelsea team-mate Eden Hazard in world football.
Hazard has been Chelsea’s star player since arriving from Lille in 2012, but he has failed to challenge dominant duo Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo for the Ballon d’Or.
However, despite Ronaldo’s current domination of the award, Rudiger ranks Messi as the world’s best and claims Hazard is his nearest challenger.
Asked about the task of handling France forward Kylian Mbappe in the Nations League, Rudiger replied: “Mbappe is unbelievably fast, really good. To stop him, you have to do it as a team, because alone … good luck!
“But for me, the best in the world is Messi, then Hazard.”
And the Chelsea defender credits Hazard’s strong start to the season and quick recovery from World Cup duty with a key role in Maurizio Sarri’s 100 per cent Premier League record after four matches.
“To be honest, I’m surprised how well we’ve done because players like Eden Hazard and N’Golo Kante had big World Cups and came back late for training,” he said. “They are in good shape and that’s impressive.”
The Germany centre-re-back also added that he is enjoying his football, too, preferring Sarri’s style to that of predecessor Antonio Conte.