'Eden Hazard will leave... THIS is who will replace him' - Paul Merson

Chelsea star Eden Hazard will quit Stamford Bridge this summer according to Express.co.uk, and Ross Barkley will fill the void he leaves behind.

Paul Merson

Eden Hazard will quit Stamford Bridge this summer, and Ross Barkley will fill the void he leaves behind.

That is the verdict of former Arsenal ace and Chelsea fan Paul Merson, who has tipped Barkley to carry on improving.

Barkley is coming up to 12 months with the Blues having moved to west London from Everton last January.

But only this season has he shown his value having endured a difficult spell under Antonio Conte.

Alongside Hazard, Barkley has been one of Chelsea’s leading lights this season who Paul picked some days ago as an upcoming talent to shine this year.

However, the England international may wave goodbye to the winger in 2019 with Real Madrid eager for an Hazard move to Spain's capital.

Merson has now offered a glowing take on Barkley, tipping him to be one of the Premier League’s top players this year.

And he reckons the 25-year-old can step up to the radar once Hazard quits Chelsea.
"[Barkley is] a good player and Chelsea have a lot of games coming up in the new year," Merson told Sky Sports.

"I don't see Eden Hazard being there next season, and Barkley may be one of those that has to step up.

"I think the older he gets, the better he'll get."

Barkley has looked like realising the potential he showed at Everton after thriving under Maurizio Sarri.

And Merson has identified how the midfielder has developed during Sarri’s tenure.

"He's definitely improved as a player, and I think he'll improve again," Merson added.

"I’ve always been a fan of his, but didn't think he understood the game as much as he does now.

"He took too many touches, but now knows when to release the ball. He has learned very quickly."

Hazard and Barkley are both in line to start again when Chelsea face Southampton on Wednesday.

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