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I was better at 18 years than Callum Hudson-Odoi: Eden Hazard

Belgium midfielder Eden Hazard has said that he was a better player at the age of 17 than the widely talked-about Callum Hudson-Odoi.

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Callum Hudson-Odoi made his first Premier League start as Chelsea defeated Brighton and Hove Albion 3-0 on Wednesday.

Hazard has applauded him, but he believes that the youngster has what it takes to rise to the top, but the Chelsea playmaker jokingly said he was better than Hudson-Odoi at his age.

"[I was] better I think!" Hazard joked, before offering his view as a professional who went through a similar level of scrutiny. “I don’t need to talk. If he wants to ask me something, I will tell him, no problem, but he is a great player already. I am not surprised.

"Since day one he trained with us, he had great skills. If he wants advice, I can teach him, but you know he has everything already. I think the guy was waiting to start a game in the Premier League, but he is ready. You can see the way he is taking the ball. He is playing with a lot of confidence.

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"He is still young and can improve, of course, but he is already very good. I think he was happy to play today. You know when you are young you just play, and sometimes you try and miss, but the good thing is to give freshness in the team.

"I think Callum can play three games. He can run, he has the legs for 90 minutes. At 28 we are a bit tired at the end, but I think he is still young. As I said, he can still improve but he is in a good team to learn, and we are happy to help him.”

Hudson-Odoi finally started his first Premier League game in Wednesday’s 3-0 win over Brighton, with his recent England call-up only adding to scrutiny on Maurizio Sarri in every match that he was not selected.

He provided the assist for Olivier Giroud's opening goal, and he has now scored four times and supplied five assists in his nine starts for Chelsea in all competitions.

The attention is firmly fixated on the exciting young player for club and country, and Hazard acknowledged that he has offered Hudson-Odoi advice on handling the attention.

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"I told him if he stays humble at first, for me it is the best thing, to stay humble," Hazard continued. "Work in training, score goals, and then be happy on the pitch. He can go very far.

"I was not listening to everything [people said about me]. Then I think my family also helped me to stay humble. In football that can happen very quickly, you can be at the top in two months, and then in two months, everyone can forget about you. But I think if you keep your feet on the floor and train…

"I think for him it is easy because the players he has around him are quite humble, so if we were all thinking we are the best, for him, it could be hard to stay humble. But he is intelligent and has a family that cares for him."

Hudson-Odoi's rapid rise has seen him competing with Hazard, as well as Pedro and Willian, for the starts he craves. Hazard understands the scramble to see more of Hudson-Odoi in the first team but believes that his future is at Stamford Bridge.

"It is the decision of the manager," Hazard concluded. "Of course, when we are playing we want young players and also English players because we are in England. But we also have Willian, Pedro, me – we have not only two wingers, but we have four.

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"But his time is coming. He played today. He will play a lot in the future."

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