Hazard can be Chelsea's 'artist'
Eden Hazard enjoyed an impressive Chelsea debut
Roberto Di Matteo believes Eden Hazard had the potential to become an "artist" for Chelsea in the same mould as Gianfranco Zola.
Hazard only made his Barclays Premier League debut on Sunday but such was his impact against Wigan that the £32million man is already being tipped to be one of the stars of this season and beyond.
Manager Di Matteo warned against making snap judgments about the 21-year-old playmaker but admitted he could see similarities with Zola, who he starred alongside for both Chelsea and Italy during the 1990s. He said: "It's difficult to compare players. Gianfranco was a wonderful talent, an artist I would say. Eden might become an artist as well."
Di Matteo added: After one game, it's probably a bit too early. He had a good start, but it's one game out of 38 in the league. It certainly gives him and the others confidence, starting with a new club like that. It was a pleasant day for him.
"He's a talented man, a talented young boy. We'll have to see how he grows into a man, and how quickly he will be an important player for Chelsea."
Di Matteo was right to play down comparisons between someone who has made two appearances for Chelsea and a man often voted the club's best player of all time. But an assist less than two minutes into your Premier League debut and another five minutes later certainly puts you on the right path towards greatness.
Di Matteo promised there was even more to come. He said: "It was great to see him enjoying himself as well, and getting his teeth into the Premier League.
"You're never quite sure how the new players will adapt, and I'm sure it will take him a bit of time to get used to the physicality and tempo of the Premier League."
Sunday was a crash course in both for Hazard, who afterwards shrugged off being the victim of more than one crude challenge.
Di Matteo said: "It's good he got used to it quickly because that's how it's going to be. He's a strong man, a strong boy. Strongly built as well. It will certainly help him. We spoke during pre-season about the Premier League. He's a young man but he already has a lot of experience in terms of playing games. He knows how to handle himself."