“He is not as good as Messi yet, but he has the talent to become this kind of player. He is the kind of player you have got every 10 or 15 years. He has got a very rare talent. I think he has been blessed by God.”
Lille Youth Coach Stephane Adam.
Eden Hazard is currently strutting around with the title of ‘most prized asset in European football’. This week saw the Lille hotshot light up message boards and social networking sites with news of his supposed imminent arrival at White Hart Lane.
Many would agree that Hazard has earned the right to be held in the same regard as official Ballon d’Or collector Lionel Messi. They share the same minute stature, which contributes to a low centre of gravity enabling them to drift past players with deceptive ease, and both fleet footed attackers have scored memorable solo efforts that mean they’re a constant presence on YouTube.
However, his wavering work rate has previously been brought into question and he was sensationally dropped by both Lille coach Rudi Garcia and Belgium national team coach Georges Leekens, who accused him of being lazy in training. Despite 9 goals in 22 league games this season, his strike rate is often described as ‘erratic’ meaning he’s usually criticised for not scoring more goals. He should fit right in with Luka Modric then.
Although reports of a done deal were a tad premature, Tottenham’s new found ability to seemingly attract a player of Hazard’s calibre is a true testament to their progress in recent years.
Redknapp’s side are now highly regarded as modern connoisseurs of free flowing attacking football, Hazard himself told Belgian talkshow La Tribune “It is a nice club with a lot of good players and absolutely a top coach.” The signings of seasoned internationals Scott Parker and Van Der Vaart, for relatively insignificant fees, have clearly enhanced their reputation on continental shores.
The transfer of Hazard would certainly signal a new dawn at Spurs. His valuation is touted somewhere north of the £20m mark and his apparent wage demands would surely dwarf the highest earners currently residing at the Lane. No question then, this transfer could propel Spurs towards the same status as London rivals Arsenal and Chelsea.
Rumours of a potential deal struck a sour note with Arsenal fans and they immediately sought to quash its credibility, even going to the extent of creating the hashtag #hazzardtospursjokes on Twitter. It’s no secret that Wenger has tracked the petite playmaker for a number of years but once again he has refused to spend the money required to meet a parent club’s valuation. Having recently missed out on Gary Cahill, isn’t it time Wenger swallowed his pride to ensure the Gunners don’t descend into the laughing stock of the Europa League?
Chelsea are another club said to be sniffing around the twice named Ligue 1 Young Player of the Year, a feat that the legendary Zidane nor Henry managed to achieve. However, you would imagine their capture of Mata combined with the emergence of Josh McEachran has helped satisfy their appetite for an attacking midfielder.
Surprisingly, one club who doesn’t appear to be pursuing Hazard are Manchester United, whose much-publicised pursuit of Wesley Sneijder has dominated the back pages for many months. Surely Hazard represents a better long-term investment with his raw pace and ability to take on players. It would also prevent Wayne Rooney from having to drop back to the halfway line every time he wants to create a meaningful United attack.
Hazard has also been linked with a move to Spain where the style and intensity of La Liga would arguably better suit his game, and the pessimists among us would endorse the notion that this story is simply a ploy to encourage interest from these ‘big’ clubs. It’s fair to say he is one of only a few players who could improve a side like Barcelona and it would be foolish to rule out Real Madrid adding him to their expensive collection of Galácticos.
My initial reaction upon seeing this story was that this was a last ditch attempt by chairman Daniel Levy to convince Redknapp to shun a future with the England national side. Spurs look on course for a top 4 finish and with proposals for a new stadium emerging every five minutes, this landmark signing maybe the motivation Redknapp needs to remain at the club.
It remains to be seen where the finance will come from in order to bring these developments to fruition but it may explain the club’s unexpectedly quiet involvement in the January transfer window. The legions of giddy Spurs fans may have a change of heart when they realise they could be playing their home games at the Compare The Market Arena.
In amongst all the speculation one thing remains clear; Tottenham Hotspur will struggle to make the next step without major investment.
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