Belgium captain Eden Hazard says that France’s Kylian Mbappe is already a serious contender for the Ballon d’Or.
Talking to beIN Sports France ahead of Tuesday’s World Cup semifinal clash between the two in Saint Petersburg, the Chelsea star spoke about the Paris Saint-Germain forward in glowing terms.
“Based on what he is showing, obviously there is Ballon d’Or capacity,” Hazard said. “In terms of potential, as well as quality, for me, yes, he already deserves the Ballon d’Or.”
Hazard also said that he is now watching videos of Mbappe, which is now a reversal of roles.
“We have spoken a few times over the phone,” the Belgium skipper said. “Kylian told me that he watched my videos when he was younger. I am not sure if I pass for an old guy, but… I am not too old.
“Now, it is me watching his videos from time to time, and I have a lot of respect for him and what he is doing. We have never seen this [quick development] in modern football.”
A picture of Hazard and two of his three brothers, Thorgan and Kylian, has surfaced showing the Belgian trio wearing France shirts as children, and Hazard admitted that he grew up favouring France over Belgium because of the former’s 1998 World Cup success.
“This is the only one [picture] going,” he said. “You know, I have already said this — we grew up more on the French side than the Belgian, in terms of being football fans — we grew up with 1998.”
The winner between France and Belgium on Tuesday will face either England or Croatia in the World Cup final on Sunday.
Jonathan Johnson covers PSG and the French national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @Jon_LeGossip.