Ross Barkley reacts after Eden Hazard says he can be ‘one of the world’s best’

Ross Barkley hopes that Eden Hazard’s glowing praise can spur him on to greater success at Chelsea after a promising start to the season.

Injuries and form meant Barkley struggled to make an impact under Antonio Conte but the 24-year-old was handed a lifeline when Maurizio Sarri took over the reins at Stamford Bridge in the summer.

Sarri was impressed after a strong pre-season from Barkley and the former Everton man has gone from strength to strength this term, providing an assist for Hazard’s opener at Southampton before finding the net himself in the second half.

Barkley was also recalled to Gareth Southgate’s England squad for the UEFA Nations League and Hazard believes the midfielder has the potential can be among the best on the planet.

After Chelsea’s 3-0 win over Southampton, Hazard said: ‘I think Ross, if you give him the freedom to play and the confidence on the pitch, then he can be one of the best in the world in midfield.

‘He is strong, powerful, can dribble; he is clever, can shoot and score. He has everything to be the best.

‘I think he is a fantastic midfielder and if he has the players around him to help him play, then he can be one of the best.’

Barkley admitted that it’s ‘great’ to hear such praise from team-mates of Hazard’s calibre.

Asked about Real Madrid’s pursuit of Hazard, Barkley replied: ‘He’s a magnificent player. You can see how he started the season and the World Cup that he had, you don’t get many players like him.

‘He’s capable of magic at any moment and to hear the things that he’s said, it’s great for me get to hear a player like that say so many great things about myself.

‘It’s important [he stays] because he’s been at Chelsea for a long time. He’s achieved so much.

‘But I can’t speak for Eden. He knows in his mind what he wants but I’d love to play with him for many more years.’

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