Jose Mourinho did not lightly anoint Eden Hazard as the best young player in world football. He did so proudly, in response to the latest demonstration of a rare and as yet unfulfilled talent.
Hazard is a special one. Not The Special One, but sufficiently singular for Mourinho to entrust him with extraordinary expectation. His hat-trick in Saturday’s 3-0 home win over an under-strength Newcastle United demanded an appropriate response.
“Eden is a fantastic player,” the Chelsea manager acknowledged. “Obviously, he is special. I don’t want to compare him to the monsters, because they have a career of 10 years, winning trophies, scoring goals. But I don’t see a better young player in the world.”
Hazard, with 12 League goals, has scored more than strikers Fernando Torres, Samuel Eto’o and Demba Ba combined. Newcastle manager Alan Pardew said Chelsea were “as good a team as we will play”. As for Hazard, he added: “You can’t really isolate him with a marking job because they’re just going to pull you apart. You have to try and just cope with him.”