Eden Hazard is considered to be of the Lionel Messi mould by Glenn Hoddle, with the former Chelsea player and manager of the opinion that the Belgian forward is irreplaceable.
Those at Stamford Bridge are hoping that they will not find themselves in a position of having to find cover for their talismanic figure any time soon.
Questions are, however, being asked of Hazard’s future as he approaches the final 12 months of his contract with no extension in place.
Reports of interest from Real Madrid refuse to go away, with a 28-year-old at the centre of the rumours doing little to curb the speculation with cryptic responses offered when asked about his intentions.
Hoddle admits that losing such ability would be a big blow for Chelsea, with Hazard one of few players in world football that mean everything to their current clubs.
The ex-England boss said: “If Messi hangs up his boots how do Barcelona replace him? Hazard is not in that category but how do Chelsea replace him, they can’t.
“I don’t see anyone out there who can do what Hazard does for Chelsea week in, week out. I can see him in a white shirt next season and really enjoying his football there.
“Next week against Liverpool, he’s going to have to almost play as a defender and you don’t get that in Spain. Personally, I hope he stays.
“He is enjoying his football at Chelsea because if he wasn’t playing in a team that passes the ball and move around he would have left already and I think that’s what’s pulling on his heartstrings a little bit.
“He really has to think ‘do I want to go and play for Real Madrid, one of the best teams in the world?’
“He deserves to because he is a wonderful player. I think he will go, but is he joining them at the wrong time because Real Madrid have a lot of rebuilding to do.”
It has been suggested that securing Champions League football for 2019-20 could help to keep Hazard at Chelsea, with the club desperate not to lose any star turns with a two-window transfer ban hanging over them.
Maurizio Sarri has moved his side back into the Premier League’s top four, but Hoddle believes Europa League success could be the Blues’ best route to rejoining the continental elite.
He added on the back of a 1-0 quarter-final first leg victory over Slavia Prague: “I think this is the easiest route for Chelsea to get into the Champions League.
“They have got some tough games in the Premier League so if I’m this manager, I’m playing my strongest team in this competition. I think they could do it that way, I really do.”