Een Hazard has admitted he is a great admirer of France rival Kylian Mbappe as he prepares to face Les Bleus with Belgium in the World Cup semi-final.

“Mbappe? I have spoken to him on the phone quite a few times,” the Belgium playmaker said. “He watched footage of me when he was a kid. Now I watch footage of him! I have mad respect for what he does at his age. In modern football, it’s unheard of.”

Hazard is also wary of one of his Chelsea team-mates, whom he believes has no equal as a holding midfielder.

“I play all year with [N’Golo Kante. He is the best in the world in his position,” he added. “When he is at his best, you have a 95 per cent chance to win the game.”

And despite the rivalry between the two neighbouring nations, Hazard confessed that France’s previous World Cup-winning side made a big impact on him as a youngster.

“I grew up with 1998. We were maybe more France fans than Belgium at the time,” he recalled.

France and Belgium lock horns on Tuesday, with the winner going on to play England or Croatia in the World Cup final.


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