Arsenal almost sealed £32m Hazard deal before Chelsea - report

Were Arsenal the side who Chelsea stopped Eden Hazard from signing with Chelsea?

The Eden Hazard transfer saga of 2012 was a torturous one for all concerned. The Lille sensation endlessly flirted with and name-dropped several Premier League clubs, teasing he would decide his future at the end of the season.

It was confidence which many decried as arrogance, after all, here was a relative youngster calling the shots to England's biggest clubs.

It was considered he had made his decision, until Chelsea against the odds lifted the Champions League in May.

Hazard had always stated he wanted to play Champions League football, and Chelsea only qualified for the following season by virtue of winning the trophy.

Days later, Hazard announced his future, famously via Twitter, stating: 'I'm signing for the European champions'.

Chelsea's penalty shootout win had not only changed the record books, but it had altered Eden Hazard's career path too, with the Blues subsequently able to launch a late successful push for his signature.

Hazard has never stated where he was due to sign, although it had been rumoured to be one of the Manchester clubs. Yet a report in France yesterday claimed it was Arsenal who had the Belgian's signature torn away from them.

Le10Sport write, attributing L'Equipe: "Arsenal was also very close to finalizing the transfer of Eden Hazar , but the player opted for Chelsea in the final straight.

"On his side, Manchester City has never really believed in the capacity of the former Lille (player) to shine in the Premier League, and quickly dropped negotiations. Finally, Manchester United have been hampered by the amount fixed by LOSC on the market ."

Manchester United's concerns over the price tag certainly tally up with Sir Alex Ferguson's comments at the time, stating: "I see some values on players, like Hazard for instance. To me it was a lot of money. He's a good player, but £34m?

"I see some values on players, like Hazard for instance. To me it was a lot of money. He's a good player, but £34m? "

As for Arsenal, the fact they were in the chase for the Belgian was admitted by Arsene Wenger in the September of 2012: "The transfer price was fixed, because he had a clause, so everybody was at the same level, he has been voted best player of the French league two consecutive years.

"You need some quality to do that at his age. I'm not surprised at all that he goes to Chelsea, and straight away is one of their stars because everybody knew about him.

"Let's not forget that all the big budgets in England were after him. We are not scared to spend the money, but we feel that even if we spend our money, with some clubs we can't compete on certain players."

It therefore suggests as though Arsenal did offer to meet the buyout clause, but Chelsea's entry into the bidding saw them blow the Gunners out of the water on personal terms.

Judging by Hazard's sensational performances this season, scoring twice as many goals as Chelsea's top scoring striker this season in the Premier LEague - some special players are worth breaking the wage structure for.

image: © Ben Sutherland

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