Seldom does a player find himself in the position to choose which Premier League team they play for. For Eden Hazard, this luxury was presented when a trio of elite clubs declared their interest in him. The Belgian was being courted by Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea. Hazard chose the latter and consequentially was announced as Chelsea’s first big money signing of this summer. When asked about his move across the channel and his choice of club, Hazard stated that he believed Chelsea ”had the best project”. With no permanent manager at Stamford Bridge and a squad that is under going a facelift, ”the best project” may be an inaccurate description of the current status at Chelsea, ”the most challenging project” may be a more apt phrase. So why did Hazard continue to portray Chelsea as the best project? Was this a cover story to spare himself any questions relating to the financial advantages of moving to Chelsea? Or does he genuinely believe that Stamford Bridge will give him the best chance of silverware and playing time?
It does not seem a moment ago that Chelsea were celebrating their first Premier League title in 2005. With a new group of players instigating Chelsea’s success, the club achieved many years of domestic glory. Now, the old guard has changed and with the departure of Didier Drogba especially, a transition period at Stamford Bridge is now underway. Although caretaker manager Roberto Di Matteo has done more than enough to earn himself the job in its full capacity,no decision has yet been made by Abramovich as to who will lead Chelsea into the new era. Difficult challenges and uncertainty surround Stamford Bridge this summer and the appearance of the squad come August may look entirely different to the one that finished as European Champions last month. So as Eden Hazard enters the fray claiming that Chelsea’s project looks better than Man United, one has to wonder with so many issues up in the air at Stamford Bridge, why Hazard did not go to Old Trafford. An extremely settled manager, along with a young team who are growing better as each game passes, displays promise for the future of the Red Devils. Available space in the starting XI at United is reiterated by their hunt for Luka Modric since their Hazard quest failed. With the most successful manager of all time at the helm and the evidence that the club are able to turn a young starlet into a world wide superstar, the obvious shirt choice for Hazard should have been Red. With a stark difference in project at Hazard’s chosen club, Chelsea have no permanent manager, a fairly ageing squad and a wealth of midfielders that could quite easily leave Hazard to vent his frustrations on the bench. Maybe the Belgian had ulterior motives for his move to the Capital.
Most United fans are aware of the uncompromising financial position that the club are in, thanks to the Glazer Family. With recent figures showing a severe decline in numbers, the club have to be cautious when entering contract discussions. United are also an organisation that have never spent a monumental amount on player wages in relation to the stature of the club. On the contrary, Chelsea are able to spend lavishly on transfers and wages down in no small part to their owner. The reported £170,000 per week wages that Hazard demanded and subsequently received from Chelsea is a figure that no other club, even Man City, were willing to shell out for an untested 21 year old. When presented with his 5 year, £78 million investment, any other club would have surely faded into the distant background. Not to suggest that Hazard is a player fuelled by financial gain, it would be unwise to entertain this thought given his obvious talent. What can be argued is that a young player, who may be unfamiliar with certain financial aspects of the game, will listen to his agent. That agent was John Bico who, through agreeing that his player should join Chelsea, received a tidy £6 million agent fee, a number that would have only been endorsed by the man pulling the strings at Stamford Bridge.
The resolution of this argument can only be put to bed on the field next season. If Hazard and co. manage to lift Chelsea to the summit of the table, all of the doubters will be proved wrong. However, if Man United once again look to spoil the party for any challengers, then the Belgian may have to look at his decision and wonder whether ”the best project” or ”the highest bidder” won his heart.