Eden Hazard is “not Lionel Messi” and Chelsea are expecting too much from a man who will never hit the heights of a Barcelona icon, claims Craig Burley.
A Belgium international at Stamford Bridge is similar to a five-time Ballon d’Or winner in as much as he has become a talismanic presence for his club.
If Hazard plays well, then Chelsea tend to fare better.
There is, however, expectation that the 28-year-old will put in a match-winning performance every time he takes to the field.
As a result, Maurizio Sarri stands accused of having made Hazard too prominent a figure in his plans, with others needing to help share the load currently being carried by a man who may not be sticking around.
Former Blues midfielder Burley told ESPN FC: “The trouble with Chelsea is the Plan A, B and C is get the ball to Eden Hazard.
“When A fails it’s get the ball to Eden Hazard, when that fails it’s still the same – get the ball to Eden Hazard.
“Everybody’s sort of waiting on this guy who has had a good season, but is carrying so much weight on his shoulders of quite a few that haven’t performed consistently.
“He’s not Messi. He’s a great player, a very good player, but you can’t rely on him to get the 40 goals a season.
“So others have to take control and take responsibility and I just think too often it’s like ‘he’ll dig us out the hole, he’ll dig us out a result’.”
Hazard has contributed 16 goals and 13 assists to Chelsea’s Premier League cause this season.
Those efforts have the Blues sat inside the top four and on course to secure Champions League qualification for 2019-20.
Questions are, however, being asked of his future in west London.
Hazard is among those said to be registering on the transfer radar of La Liga giants Real Madrid, with a player who fits the ‘Galactico’ mould having made no secret of his fondness for the Blancos.
It could be that a move is made this summer, with Chelsea having been unable to agree fresh terms with a prized asset who will see his current contract expire in 2020.