Eden Hazard can be the new Gianfranco Zola for Chelsea, says manager Roberto Di Matteo
To appreciate what Roman Abramovich has always craved for Chelsea — and the lengths he will go to get it — the story of Gianfranco Zola is particularly instructive.
Upon purchasing Chelsea back in 2003, popular legend has it that Abramovich tried to buy Cagliari, the Sardinian club Zola had just agreed to join, for the sole purpose of keeping the little Italian maestro at Stamford Bridge.
That mission might have been doomed to failure but, almost a decade on, there was particular resonance yesterday to the comparison that was drawn between Zola and Eden Hazard by Roberto Di Matteo.
“Gianfranco was a wonderful talent, an artist I would say — Eden might become an artist as well,” he said. Di Matteo should know. He shared a dressing-room with Zola during six years at Chelsea and they were also team-mates in the Italy national team.
Hazard’s canvas on Wednesday night will be Stamford Bridge when, after an outstanding debut in the 2-0 win against Wigan on Sunday, he will play his first home match since arriving at Chelsea from Lille.
The season might be at its nascent stage but, on first impressions, the rush to acclaim Hazard as the best of the new additions to the Premier League is understandable.