Which Club Best Suits Eden Hazard? Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea or Arsenal: Which Club Best Suits Eden Hazard?
1. Chances of Playing as a No.10
Hazard has spent the majority of his early career so far on the wings, but having revelled in a central berth at times this season, that is sure to be a big consideration in his decision. He is quoted as saying: “I have always dreamed of playing the number 10 role. Where I will play will influence my thinking on who I should join.”
Hearing that should be good news indeed for Manchester United, who can point to a vast gaping hole between their strikers and midfielders and say 'go on then, make that your own'. Since Fletcher slipped out of the Old Trafford picture, Fergie has had to alternate between Giggs, Carrick and Scholes in the midfield. All great players, but two of them are pushing 40 and Carrick hardly ever scores. They might regret not signing Wesley Sneijder last summer for that spot, and United won't want to make the same mistake twice.
Arsenal lost their most creative midfielders last season in the shape of Fabregas and Nasri, who have yet to be properly replaced. Hazard would be afforded the number 10 role behind Robin Van Persie if he came to the Emirates, but it looks likely that any deal with Arsenal will be hamstrung by financial constraints.
Only last year did Chelsea go out and splash the cash on a precocious and emerging talent that played out wide at his former club but looked set for a career through the middle. That player was Juan Mata and that deal worked out pretty well indeed. Perhaps Mata will stay out wide like he has done for large parts of this campaign, but the Spaniard does look tailor made to eventually play in the role Hazard wants for himself.
City have a plethora of attacking midfielders in their ranks, and there isn't really a natural opening in their starting line-up for the position that Hazard craves. But then again, they have just won the league, which will no doubt appeal to his visions of grandeur.
Chances of playing the number 10 role?
United – 9/10
Arsenal – 8/10
Chelsea – 6/10
2. Teams Ambitions in the Transfer Market
Another important consideration for Hazard is reportedly what other players will be brought in to join him at his final destination. The romance of football may be dead with potential signings dictating how a club plans its transfer operations, but that just seems to be the modern game for you. And Hazard is especially big time it seems.
City are likely to be plunging the pockets of their Arab owners again this summer, as Mancini looks to prepare an assault of the Champions League next season after their domestic success of this year. You would be surprised to see an overhaul at the Etihad, but a central defender and a striker may be on the cards in addition to the pursuit of the La Louviere born wonderkid. If you are picking a team on the basis of future investment of the playing squad, your eyes are bound to be lighting up at City's riches.
Chelsea are fresh from their European success, and are set to replace half of their team according to the ever hyperbolic rumourmill. But with Roman Abramovich having fallen back in love with the club thanks to winning the trophy he craves most, he might ramp up his investment this summer. That could be just what propels Chelsea back into the title race after season of Premier League transition, which should appeal to Hazard.
United on the other hand, do need to conduct an overhaul of their playing staff. A defender is needed, along with another striker to replace the outgoing Berbatov, and the team is crying out for more creativity in midfield. However with the purse strings ever tightening under the Glazer's frosty control, Hazard may not feel he is guaranteed to see more expensive acquisitions join him at Old Trafford.
Arsenal are the club in most desperate need of complete squad reshaping, but only with a stroke of a miracle is that likely to happen. Wenger isn't known for overhauls, and is likely to tip-toe around this summer's transfer window like he does most. He has already signed Lukas Podolski though, although Hazard may feel big-headed enough after a season of individual accolades to request more lavish names to line-up alongside than that of the German's.
Will more names follow Hazard?
City – 10/10
United – 7/10
Arsenal - 5/10
Playing-wise, Hazard looks built for City. Playing alongside fellow diminutive playmakers such as Silva and Nasri looks like a match made in heaven. He would also be playing in the most attacking team in the league, now Mancini has taken off the hand-brake after his first season defensive tendencies.
Hazard would also suit Arsenal very well, with their Barcelona-lite brand of passing football attractive to the Belgian. It's just not served them so well in the past seven years, unfortunately. But the Gunners are still a side founded on possession play, and perform with a style at times that is as fluid and free-flowing as the best.
United would struggle to convince Hazard that their tactics would centre around him in a number 10 role, given the club's lengthy history of playing with wingers. That might have been a factor in Sneijder's signing never coming last year. But it is evident United need more attacking threat from midfield, and Rooney can't play in two positions. Possible for a tactical reshuffle to accommodate Hazard, but it would require some stark changes to their usual approach.
What exactly are Chelsea's tactics now? Under AVB nothing seemed to work, but since Robbi Di Matteo got the job they seem to have won a Champions League with the most negative of policies since Greece at Euro 2004. This summer is sure to see the club re-evaluate that approach in favour of more gung-ho than gun-in-holster, but Hazard may not have been sufficiently impressed by their attacking limitations to want to call Stamford Bridge home.
City – 9/10
Arsenal – 8/10
United – 7/10
Chelsea - 5/10
In Sir Alex Ferguson, United can offer a manager with a proven track record of moulding promising young players into the most polished of global superstars. David Beckham and Cristian Ronaldo being the best examples. It hasn't quite worked out yet for Nani, but Fergie might be abandoning that sinking ship in hope of making Eden Hazard into a Ballon D'or contender. With a hat-trick in his final game for Lille last week, the midfielder is not shy of a goal at such an early stage of his career, but he will surely realise Fergie is among the best in the business at producing the finished article.
Read above for Arsene Wenger, too. Already replace Beckham and Ronaldo with Henry and Fabregas. Much like Fergie and Nani, it hasn't yet come to fruition for Wenger and Walcott, but there's no denying the Frenchman's ability to fulfil the potential of talented youngsters.
Mancini has yet to bring through his own stars at City yet, preferring to buy them in ready-made bankrolled by Sheik cash, but he has his own pet project at the moment in Mario Balotelli. God knows Mancini is ready to call it quits on that one, judging by the tone of his recent interviews about the Italian. Hazard could well flourish under Inter's former tactician, who is a better coach than is given credit for.
Hard to do for Chelsea, considering their current manager is a caretaker. You would have thought an F.A. Cup and a Champions League in six months was a decent enough return to warrant handing Di Matteo the job on a permanent basis. But then again we are talking about Roman Abramovich, who rolls heads like its going out of fashion. This may let Chelsea down in Hazard's thinking, who he only recently starting considering after their Munich success. Which is at the same time a perfectly acceptable and embarrassingly depressing sample of the mind of a modern player.
United – 10/10
Arsenal – 9/10
City – 8/10
Chelsea – 5/10
United – 33/40
There you have it; United should be Eden Hazard's final destination this summer. Although City are a close second, and probably a more likely bet thanks to their richness and Premier League success. Arsenal are a useful third, but any sense in that move is likely to be skewed by money. Of course Chelsea may just flash the cash and their medals and then common sense will fly out the window.
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