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Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Di Matteo: Hazard can be the next Zola

ESPN staff

Chelsea boss Roberto Di Matteo believes Eden Hazard can become the club's new Gianfranco Zola after making a sparkling Premier League debut for the Blues last weekend.

Hazard, who moved to Stamford Bridge from Ligue outfit Lille in a 32 million move this summer, starred against Wigan on Sunday. Di Matteo was cautious about causing unnecessary hype, but says the 21-year-old has all the attributes to make a similar impact to that of Zola in the 1990s.

"It's difficult to compare players," said Di Matteo. "Gianfranco was a wonderful talent, an artist I would say.

"Eden might become an artist as well. 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 promised the best was yet to come from Hazard, after the Belgium international created a goal for Chelsea two minutes into his maiden Premier League appearance.

"It was great to see him enjoying himself as well, and getting his teeth into the Premier League," he said. "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.

"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."

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