Arsenal defender Vermaelen likens Chelsea signing Hazard to Messi

Arsenal defender Thomas Vermaelen has likened Chelsea signing Eden Hazard to Barcelona star Lionel Messi.

Arsenal defender Thomas Vermaelen has likened Chelsea signing Eden Hazard to Barcelona star Lionel Messi.

Hazard, whose younger brother Thorgan has also joined Chelsea, faces a major battle to justify his massive fee.

But Vermaelen said: “I only know Eden. I don’t know his brother. I know Eden well from the national team and he’s a really talented player. He has exceptional qualities but it’s not easy to show that every week at a high level.

“He’s been player of the year in France for two years in a row and that says quite a lot and I hope he will do well at Chelsea. I think he will.

“Technically, he is very good. He is quick with the ball. He’s a little bit like the way Messi plays. He’s small with a low centre of gravity and has some good tricks.

“We wanted to give him a free role in the friendly against England (before Euro2012) because he has the talent to do that. You don’t have to give him too many responsibilities.

“Just leave him free to play. Allow him to enjoy the game and then he will be at his best.

“I’m confident he will do well but the Premier League is a high step. Everyone will say that. England is tougher and the tempo is much higher and the quality of defenders is much better. It won’t be easy but he will show his quality to the fans at Chelsea. He will do well, I think.”

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