Latest: Chelsea player named in world’s top three and it’s not Hazard

Thibaut Courtois has been included in this week’s France Football, which saw the prestigious Gallic publication voting on the world’s top stoppers.

Courtois ended up third in the ranking, some way behind Manuel Neuer and Gianluigi Buffon.

Even more surprisingly, David de Gea came in seventh, enraging Man United fans worldwide.

The same publication runs the Ballon d’Or, whose results will be revealed tomorrow. Cristiano Ronaldo is expected to retain the award, with Eden Hazard likely to tally the most votes for the Blues.

Courtois is having another strong season, and looks comfortable as ever behind a solid defence. At International level he goes into his second World Cup as a first choice this summer, and will hope to grow his legacy there too.

Buffon is retiring and Neuer has suffered a serious injury, so this could be the year that sees the Belgian rise to the top of the rankings at last.

Frank Lampard: Why it’s difficult to criticise Eden Hazard at Chelsea

Frank Lampard has praised Eden Hazard for adding goals to his game in response to the Chelsea forward’s critics.
The Belgium international has consistently been one of the best Premier League players since his move to Stamford Bridge from Ligue 1 side Lille in 2012.

Hazard scored 14 times and made nine assists in 38 games to help Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea side win the Premier League title in the 2014-15 season.

The Chelsea No10 only managed four Premier League goals during a disappointing 2015-16 campaign but rediscovered some top form under Antonio Conte last term.

Hazard scored 16 goals and created five goals for his team-mates during the title-winning season under ex-Juventus boss Conte in 2016-17.

The 26-year-old endured an injury-hit start to the current campaign but Hazard has scored five goals and two assists in his last six games in all competitions.

Former Chelsea midfielder Lampard is impressed with how Hazard has been more prolific over the past season or so.

“If you wanted to criticise him before it would maybe be that he can beat people but is he getting in that critical position to score goals?” Lampard told BT Sport.

“Now we’re seeing him more central and in the box, running in behind defenders and showing that not only can he be a creative force, but he can score goals too. He’s been fantastic.

“He’s in great form at the moment.”

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