Eden Hazard has revealed that he held personal conversations with both Sir Alex Ferguson and Roman Abramovich before deciding that he wanted to join Chelsea rather than Manchester United.
The Belgium international underwent a medical at Stamford Bridge to seal his £34 million move to Chelsea and, even though the new European champions were still ¬without a permanent manager, he said that the intervention of Abramovich had been vital to his decision.
“I spoke with Abramovich, he is very simple and loves football,” Hazard said. “We were on the same wavelength, he wants to confirm Chelsea’s position at the top. Chelsea have made a good investment for me but I did not put any pressure on them.”
Manchester City, Arsenal and Tottenham were also interested in the former Lille playmaker, but it appears to have come down to a choice between Chelsea and United. Chelsea’s unexpected success in winning the Champions League and thus securing their qualification in the tournament next season was crucial.
“I’ve always said I wanted to play in England. There was a struggle between Chelsea and United, but according to me Chelsea has the best project,” Hazard said.
“I was in advanced contact with both clubs and I spoke to both coaches. I want to be playing in the Champions League every year.
“When they won the Champions League, I told myself: ‘Why not Chelsea?’ The team is young and I have a better chance to play there.
“At 21, Real Madrid or Barcelona would have been more difficult for me. If I play well enough at Chelsea, I could win my place in the starting team and my priority is to play.”
Hazard’s arrival confirms a new wave of investment from Abramovich, who has also sanctioned the £6.5 million signing of Marko Marin and is close to a £38 million deal for Porto striker Hulk.
The Brazil forward suggested that he was ready to leave. The deal is understood to be at least “90 per cent” complete.
“I have won many titles in the past four years at Porto, and I have a great relationship with everyone,” Hulk said.
“If the time has come to move on, I’ll do so with a good ¬feeling. I’m sure they will understand the motives behind my decision if I leave.”
Chelsea issued a statement yesterday to confirm that they had agreed a fee with Lille and personal terms with Hazard, which are expected to be as much £170,000 a week over a five-year contract.
The deal should be ratified when the French transfer window reopens on June 13, before Hazard meets up with his new team-mates for pre-season training in July.
Chelsea’s outlay this summer already poses fresh questions about their ability to meet Uefa’s new ¬financial fair play regulations, which are based on the principle that clubs should at least break even.
Chelsea recorded an annual loss of £67.7 million in their most recent accounts compared with £70.9 million the previous year.