Tag Eden Hazard

Tag Eden Hazard

Trolling, and Eden Hazard

Ed May 21, 2012 Tags: , Opinion 267 comments

Eden Hazard, Wesley Sneijder, Alan Shearer, Dimitar Berabtov, Ronaldinho, Celio Silva… Celio Silva. Another summer, another tiresome transfer ‘saga’ in the offing as Belgian midfielder-cum-winger Hazard cock-teases his way around Europe’s major clubs, before inevitably joining “the project” over at Manchester City. It’s all about the trophies you see. And the filthy lucre.

The drawn-out transfer, negotiated in time-honoured fashion via Sky Sports News, is almost certain to conclude around midnight, 31 August, as Jim White chases the youngster through Heathrow for a final conclusive answer. And the last few headlines of the summer. By which time those viewers who have not already cranked up the oven, primed for head insertion, will surely do so. Even if its electric, rather than gas.

After all, the close-season is barely two days old, but has rapidly descended into the desperate summer search for column-filling news, football in absentia. The summer’s other entertainment – John Terry drunkenly harassing an under-age Ukrainian barmaid just hours before England’s Euro 2012 opener against France – can wait, for now.

In the meantime, Hazard is likely to command many of those headlines, having spent the season enjoying the considerable attention his irregular proclamations of love and loyalty have brought. After all he loves La Liga, and Italy, and England, and Arsenal, and Tottenham Hotspur, and Real Madrid, and Barcelona, and the colour blue. Everybody say, ‘eh oh’.

Remarkably, the Belgian cranked up the gossip juice even further this past weekend – the 21-year-old’s agent had seemingly let it be known that his charge would announce next season’s destination after Lille’s fixture with AS Nancy on Sunday evening. The world watched and waited, first as Hazard signed off his five-year spell at Lille with a hat-trick in the home side’s 4-1 demolition of mid-table Nancy, then as the player departed on a 15 minute lap-of-honour with toddler in tow, then as Hazard announced he would be joining….

…. nobody. Not yet, at least. World -class trolling, Eden, world-class.

“As long as I’ve not put pen to paper, I won’t say where I’m going,” the Belgian international told Canal+.

“I have not yet made my choice. Chelsea could interest me now. They’ve won the Champions League and will therefore be in it next season. It’s really important for me to be playing in that competition. Chelsea are a big club with some great players – of course it’s a possibility.

“For now, nothing’s been decided, but it will be soon I hope that by June 2 it will be clear. Now I want to join up with the national team and then go on holiday. It’ll do me a lot of good. My agent has met with Manchester and with Chelsea. They both give good offers and are both great clubs. I don’t know. It’s not been finalised yet.”

Quite which club ‘Manchester’ is wasn’t clarified.

But if Hazard took the wind-up to a new level, fans and the mainstream media have joined the fun. First, Sky Sports News reported on Monday morning that it “understands Hazard would prefer to join United” this summer. Cynics might add that the channel normally “understands” whatever is in the morning’s newspapers, gossip sites, Twitter, or is fed by agents. Or generates the most headlines, clicks and viewers. Rant couldn’t possibly comment.

Then a very well done fake ‘official’ United site fooled countless supporters on social media, before ESPN tweeted the ‘news’ as fact if only to prove the unnervingly low standards of reporting, or accountability, in rolling media.

Meanwhile, Hazard is lapping up the attention – a young man who has the world at his feet, and seemingly knows it. The 26-cap Belgian international has spent much of the past season proclaiming his love for every club, or country, in which he could potentially play next season. Talent and conceit in equal measure, some might say.

That, of course, is to say nothing of the player’s representative, firsteleven ISM, which is reportedly seeking €8 million simply to do the deal with interested parties this summer. Add Lille’s €35 million transfer fee, and wages upwards of £150,000 per week, and any deal for Hazard will necessarily be complex. It’s a fact supporters may wish to take into consideration when assessing any future headlines!

On the field Hazard’s season ended with a first League 1 hat-trick of a fledgling career, taking the youngster to 20 goals for the season. Lille missed out on Le Championnat crown though, finising third behind PSG and champions Montpellier. The player is more Cristano Ronaldo than Paul Scholes, but it is easy to envisage the player in Sir Alex Ferguson’s tactical thinking next season, with the United manager apprently after pace in midfield.

It is, of course, not quite so easy to believe that the Glazer family is genuinely prepared to invest upwards of £80 million on a single player over the length of a five-year contract.

Yet, United is apparently still an option if the mainstream media is to be believed, with Lille managing director Frederic Paquet revealing that four clubs are in the running for the player’s signature – Chelsea, City, United and, presumably, Real Madrid.

“I’m not sure he himself knows exactly where he will go, so for the moment we don’t know,” Parquet told Sky Sports News.

“From what I know I think there are maybe four teams interested in him. At this moment we don’t know. We have a very strong relationship with the player and his advisors, so we will get together and for the moment we are just waiting for him to make a choice between these four teams.”

In the meantime the headline-makers will keep on chasing viewers: proclamations of Hazard’s impending departure to City, Chelsea, Madrid and United will likely abound. Perhaps best, then, to take it all in with good humour. Especially if the player himself has anything to say.

Hazard a guess that Eden isn’t heading to Old Trafford

Ed March 13, 2012 Tags: , Opinion 38 comments

Eden Hazard, the prodigiously talented Lille midfielder-cum-forward, has been making eyes at Manchester United this week. Precipitated by Sir Alex Ferguson’s widely reported trip to France on Saturday evening, the 21-year-old says that he is “excited” by the prospect of joining United during the summer transfer window.

That may be the case, but with Ferguson unlikely to be furnished with the kind of funds that will secure the Belgian playmaker, United supporters may be in for another summer of tedious transfer stories. It has, after all, become so routine.

Indeed, there was no confirmation forthcoming from Ferguson that the Scot’s flying French visit was to ‘scout’ Hazard at all, although almost all of Europe’s leading clubs – and Tottenham Hotspur – are monitoring the Belgian’s progress and availability. There is no doubt that Hazard will leave in the coming summer though, whatever his destination, with the player having outgrown Ligue 1. Nor is the 21-year-old likely to welcome an impending 75 per cent tax rate for France-based millionaires.

What is certain: the Belgian international, now into his fourth season with Lille, will have the choice of clubs when he makes the move to Spain, Italy, or England after the winter opens in June.

Yet, United fans will feel a tinge of excitement this week, both as news of Ferguson’s trip filtered out on Saturday night, and on the player’s positive comments, Monday. Who can blame supporters – Hazard is just the kind of creative playmaker, who can play  both wide and centrally, which United has lacked in recent years.

“Of course [United interests me], this is a club that excites everyone, but for now my focus is on Lille,” the player reportedly told La Voix du Nord.

“But yes, it is a pleasure to be watched by one of the best coaches in the world, if not the best.”

Supporters should take the comments with a pinch of salt though, coming just weeks after the 36-cap international name-checked Spurs as a possible summer destination, with media widely reporting that the player had already agreed terms with the north London club.

Seemingly casting his net wide, Hazard has also spoken of his admiration for Real Madrid, Arsenal and Barcelona; a young man desperately seeking a hefty pay rise and a leg up the next rung of the footballing ladder.

“Our owner is ready to pay for an exceptional talent like Eden Hazard,” claimed soon-to-be England manager Redknapp.

“I have seen him several times. But I know Manchester United are also following him very closely. City, too. It will be difficult to sign him. But I love him. Last year, I loved Gervinho too.”

The White Hart Lane boss’ amorous feelings will likely remain unrequited unless Spurs smashes its notoriously strict pay scale, and the player genuinely believes he will not break into the side at one of Europe’s tier one clubs. It is an unlikely scenario for a player destined for the very top.

True, the spectre of Karim Benzema’s difficult first season at Real Madrid looms large, although it would take a huge lack of confidence on Hazard’s part to turn down a bid from one of Europe’s super-powers, even if it is a fear Hazard expressed in February when rumours first surfaced of Tottenham’s deal.

“Maybe I will play there [Spurs] next season,” said the youngster, who began his career at Tubize in his native Belgium.

“It is a nice club with a lot of good players and absolutely a top coach. I have not signed anything yet, but I hope it will happen in the near future. Perhaps Spanish football would be better for me, rather than the English. But if you want to be champion, you would need to play with Barcelona or Real Madrid. The opportunities would be much smaller.

“The competition would be strong at Tottenham too, but less so that at Barca or Real. I think I can learn the most in England. You play a big game every week and the atmosphere is great.”

Meanwhile, both City and Chelsea have sent scouting teams to Lille in search of Europe’s ‘next big thing’. Both have the finances to lure Hazard to England of course, although neither has been named checked by the player.

Then there is United, and Ferguson’s dash to France at the weekend. In truth, with the Reds unlikely to spend big until post IPO – whenever that may be – United is probably no more interested in Hazard than the club was in Barcelona-bound Alexis Sanchez last summer. It has, after all, been several years since the Old Trafford bean counters allowed Ferguson to shop at the very top of the transfer market. Hazard will go for more than £25 million.

Ferguson is far more likely, while we’re playing a game of transfer speculation, to have been watching Lille’s defender Mathieu Debuchy, or Olympique Lyonnaise midfielder Clement Grenier during the match at Stade Gerland.

In truth the spectre of Real will likely decide Hazard’s future, no matter the player’s proclamation to the contrary. After all, with Zinedine Zidane successfully tapping up the Francophone market for the prospective Spanish champions in recent years, the lure of Los Merengues is sure to be strong.

“He is a star of the future,” Zidane said. “He is strong technically and very fast. I would take him to Madrid without a second’s thought.”

Many United supporters would concur, if a deal to take Hazard to Old Trafford materialises. Glazernomics and European rivals dictate that it is unlikely.