Manchester United have been strongly linked with Hazard in the last twelve months as they failed to capture Sneijder last summer and had to call Scholes out of retirement to provide the creative spark that they are lacking from the midfield. Hazard can operate on either flank but prefers to roam into central positions where he can really get involved in the play and influence matters, having spent most of the season coming inside from the left.
However, an AMC doesn’t really suit United as any player playing here would probably take up similar positions to Rooney who often drops deep to get possession and rarely plays on the shoulder of the last defender which is usually what an AMC would need from their striker. If he was to move to United and play centrally he’d need to have Rooney playing further ahead of him and resist coming deep. He is unlikely to go wide as United have Valencia, Park, Nani and Young already available there and he isn’t really a wide man suited to a four man midfield as that would require an increased tactical role for him in a defensive capacity.
In honesty Man United really need a deep-lying playmaker who can pick it up off the back four and distribute the ball to the forward players in this way. Luka Modric would probably be an ideal candidate, rather than an AMC style player like Hazard who would take some of the creative play off Rooney. Rooney averages over 50 passes per game which is incredibly high, compare this to the 27 per game RVP has. Thus, clearly Rooney likes to get himself into the number 10 position during games so perhaps United should move for a deeper player than Hazard who may impede Rooney somewhat, or at least lead to Rooney needing to alter his game somewhat.
With Hazard’s reported astronomic wage demands City will no doubt have a good chance of signing him, but how will he fit in? City under Mancini tend to opt for a 4-2-3-1 which would likely suit Hazard who could play as anyone of the three behind a striker. If Silva operates on one flank he could take the other, coming inside as Silva or Nasri does. Were he signed it would be a real blow to Samir Nasri who has began to hit good form lately as well as Adam Johnson, one of whom would almost certainly leave.
In the context of the FFP City’s net losses are near £200 million a year which puts them way out of reach of the FFP which is a loss of about £45 million per annum. City are taking measures to meet the rules such as the Etihad stadium naming as well as other commercial avenues but they would almost certainly need to sell players in order to bring any in. One issue would be that players like Adebayor who are on £170,000 a week may be reluctant to leave and take a big wage cut, which could lead to a deal where City still pay a percentage of some of their old players wages in order to move them on.
If Hazard signed it would indicate real intent for the club going into next year and based on club formations etc. it appears he would be a slightly better fit at City than at United. If they do want to sign him they will certainly need to sell a few players to fund the deal as well as clear up space in their squad for him. Generally speaking Johnson, Adebayor, Dzeko and Balotelli could all be vulnerable to free up cash for new signings like Hazard.
Chelsea recently signed Marko Marin which could make a move less likely, although he was signed as a squad player rather than a starter and with a squad rejuvenation needed Hazard could still be a good option. Chelsea are notoriously short of creative flair at times especially with an over-reliance on Mata so Hazards introduction would make sense and could provide Chelsea with more options. In the 4-2-3-1 played by RDM he would fit in well on the left where Kalou currently operates coming inside to provide support and creativity. He could adequately perform in any of the three positions behind a forward. At Chelsea he’d almost certainly be guaranteed regular football which could prove important in Hazard’s decision as he’d likely be an instant first team player for Chelsea because of the injection of creativity and flair he would provide.
The FFP again will be an issue for Chelsea but having already released a few senior players in Alex and Anelka as well as with more exits imminent Chelsea are sure to sell in order to buy. The loss per annum is around £67 million per year and if Chelsea don’t spend big on bringing a new manager in there will be funds available to rejuvenate the squad.
One drawback for Chelsea could be that if they do not have Champions League football next season they may struggle to attract him, although they can still offer big wages and their UEFA co-efficient is still very good with the club ranked third. However it does still remain to be seen whether Chelsea would compete on wages with City.
Arsenal and Spurs have also been linked with Hazard, but it seems unlikely that he would move to either side. Arsenal have signed Lukas Podolski and it remains to be seen whether the club would be willing to pay high wages or a high transfer fee which is the same for Spurs. Levy has always been relatively careful with the clubs finances and is unwilling to break the clubs financial structure to bring in players. In Spurs 4-4-1-1 he would either start on the right ahead of Lennon or move Van Der Vaart out and play behind the front man, although he isn’t naturally inclined to play wide in a midfield 4 as he’d drift too far inside and leave either full-back somewhat exposed. Further to this if Modric leaves and the club do not finish 4th it will be very difficult for the club to attract players who dream of winning some of Europe’s most coveted trophies, this could also be an issue for Arsenal with RVP and with their fourth place spot far from guaranteed.
Thus it looks like the two Manchester clubs might be early favourites to gain his signature with United needing a big money signing to show their intent and for the Glazer’s to show fans that they are willing to put money into the club as well as extract it from the club. However a move for a player like Luka Modric might be better advised due to the role of Rooney in terms of dropping deep.
For Chelsea to get him they’d need to finish fourth and perhaps release some of their more established players on big wages. Arsenal and Spurs would also need to ensure Champions League football but as well this would need to break their traditional wage structures. Hazard with his inclination to roam from the flanks into the centre as well as his ability to operate as a number 10 would suit a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-3-3 best. In that regard he’d tactically be best suited to either Chelsea or City. City would surely be favourites to get his signature were the two sides to go in for him, but he could go to the side that offers him good wages relative to chances for regular first team football.
Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/Think_Football
Like us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thinkingfootball