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Paul Scholes: Sparkling gem Eden Hazard deserves Professional Footballers' Association Player of the Year honour

By Paul Scholes

Published 24/04/2015

Star man: Chelsea’s Eden Hazard deserves to be crowned the PFA Player of the Year after a dazzling season
Star man: Chelsea’s Eden Hazard deserves to be crowned the PFA Player of the Year after a dazzling season

No player has been streets ahead of the rest when it comes to the Professional Footballers' Association Player of the Year award, and when I scan down the list of six nominees I do wonder how John Terry found himself omitted.

Terry has been the key figure in the team that will win the title this year; a key figure because Chelsea are essentially a defensive team.

Their 34-year-old captain is their main man in that regard. He plays in every game and is deserving of a place on the shortlist, although he would not be my choice to win it on Sunday night.

Had I still a ballot paper in this particular election, my vote would go to Eden Hazard. I prefer the attacking footballers - you wouldn't expect me to say otherwise - and Hazard has been the best.

Not streets ahead of the likes of Harry Kane, and nothing like the wow-factor of those two big players at Barcelona and Real Madrid. But Hazard has made the difference in big games, like against Manchester United.

If I were to place the six shortlisted players, plus Terry, in order, I would rank them like this: 1) Hazard; 2) Kane; 3) Terry; 4) David de Gea; 5) Philippe Coutinho; 6) Alexis Sanchez; 7) Diego Costa.

Hazard is a superb player, and one who does not go missing in big Premier League games. When Jose Mourinho has the opposition locked down it is to Hazard whom Chelsea look to get the assist or the goal which will win them the game.

That's what Mourinho teams do. It isn't always pretty and I would not say that they have blown the rest of the league away, but then you don't always have to do so to win a league crown.

Not every title-winning Manchester United team that I played in did that. In the 2012-13 season we won the title by a margin of 11 points in the end but I never felt we were brilliant. Robin van Persie's goals were crucial. We were still the best team but other title seasons felt more emphatic.

As far as this season goes, it would be wrong to argue that Chelsea have not been the best team in the Premier League. If, as expected, they finish the job in the next couple of weeks, they will have deserved it.

This has been Hazard's third season in the Premier League and he will have to produce the kind of consistent form he has managed this season for another three years to be talked about among the greats.

Clearly, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are still on a level of their own in world football. That said, I think Hazard is comparable with the likes of Luis Suarez and Neymar.

There is no shame in being part of that group of players. The two at the top have phenomenal goalscoring records and the teams they play for are in the last four of the Champions League.

As for their domestic leagues, I am sure that Hazard faces a more difficult test against the mid and low-ranking Premier League teams than the equivalent teams Madrid and Barca encounter in their league.

One thing I do wonder with Hazard is whether he has that hunger to score goals that you see in Ronaldo, Messi and Suarez. Those are players who have a ferocious appetite to put the ball in the net. They're unstoppable. Hazard seems to me to be a relatively gentle soul. One who is just as happy skipping past a couple of opponents and putting it on a plate for a team-mate.

He does that very well, and I have no doubt he will deserve his accolade at the PFA awards. Playing the way he does, under pressure to score goals and make them, is not easy and he has been a big part of Chelsea's success.

But in this modern age, if he wishes to challenge the achievements of Messi and Ronaldo, then he will have to prove that he can match their relentless desire to score goals.

Meanwhile, I really like the look of Jack Grealish. He has promise. I just hope he chooses to play for England rather than the Republic!

I had the same options as Grealish when it came to international football. In fact, I could have played for Northern Ireland as well as the Republic through grandparents, but it never occurred to me to play for anyone other than England.

I see Grealish is a clever player. He has great control, he can dribble and pass. He might have a free-kick in him too. There are the makings of a decent player there.

Belfast Telegraph

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