Chelsea's £32m man can deepen Manchester United's pain

Hazard thriving at Stamford Bridge after turning down a move to the champions.

When Eden Hazard turned down Manchester United in preference of a move to Chelsea in 2012, the news was received as something of a shock.

The Belgian had seemed all set to join United. Sir Alex Ferguson’s side had just fallen short in their pursuit of a 20th Premier League title, losing it to Manchester City, and Ferguson himself had spoken to Hazard to convince the attacking midfielder to move to Old Trafford.

He didn’t, of course, and it was Chelsea’s stunning Champions League win over Bayern Munich which ultimately swayed him. Now, 20 months on from that day, how satisfied Hazard must be feeling. Choosing Chelsea was a gamble, but it has paid off emphatically.

Hazard was simply dazzling in Chelsea’s 2-0 win over Hull City on Saturday. His opening goal was a master-class in finishing, helping send Chelsea to the top of the league. The Blues are very much in the hunt for the title.

It was Hazard’s 11th of the season, a season in which he is emerging as a player of world-class capabilities. How long before he reaches the levels of Ronaldo, Messi and co?

With rumours of PSG interest in Hazard, little wonder Jose Mourinho is so determined to keep him, valuing him at a whopping £100m.

And all the while the Old Trafford empire continues to shake on its very foundations. Had Hazard followed his initial instinct and joined United, he would now have found himself playing for a side which looks a million miles away from a Premier League challenge.

Roman Abramovich played a part in Hazard’s move, but did the player also catch a glimpse of the mess which Ferguson was leaving behind as he handed over the reins to David Moyes?

What seemed a gamble at the time looks in hindsight a very wily move by the talented playmaker, and it looks better with every passing week.

United can only look on in envy as Hazard dissects defences week in, week out, while Moyes’s side labour with a blunt attack enlivened only by the emerging Adnan Januzaj.

And who do Chelsea play next? The team Hazard might have joined. What price the brilliant Belgian handing United another reminder of what they missed?

image: © Ben Sutherland

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