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Barkley says Chelsea players have to ‘step up’ to replace Hazard

Ross Barkley insists Chelsea’s players have to ‘step up’ as they bid to replace the departed Eden Hazard.

Hazard brought an end to his seven-year Stamford Bridge career this summer, joining Spanish giants Real Madrid in a deal which could rise to as much as £130m.

The Belgian international scored 21 goals in all competitions for Chelsea last season, whilst his 15 assists were also the highest total in the Premier League.

Barkley admits the 28-year-old’s departure is a blow, and speaking after Chelsea’s 4-3 friendly win over Reading, says the club’s players must ‘step up to the plate’ to fill the creative void.

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“You have to fill in,” Barkley said at the Madejski Stadium.

“Everyone in the squad understands that he (Hazard) was a great player, but he is gone. He has new challenges now and we have to replace his goals and create the chances. We have that much quality in the squad we will all step up to the plate.

“Last season when Eden wasn’t playing we still won games, we still created chances. We know he is an exceptional player, but we have exceptional players in the squad. We have young ones that will step up and produce the goods as well.

“We have Callum coming back from injury and we have signed Christian Pulisic, he is an exceptional talent. We have wingers who can create from tight positions, players who can shoot from distance and strikers – young and experienced – who are hungry for goals.

“We have all come back from pre-season hungry, especially under the new manager. We are all working hard every day in training and doing double sessions all the time, getting ready for the new season.

“There is a lot we can improve on – you could see that against Reading as we conceded three goals. We scored four so there were positives, too, and I am looking forward to the season.”

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