After winning the Champions League for the first time, Chelsea reinvested some of the winnings into Hazard, who cost the Blues £32million. Hazard was starting to turn heads at Lille, where he had impressed ever since coming through their youth academy at the age of just 16.
Former Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp famously met Hazard in a hotel room as he looked to bring the Belgian to White Hart Lane, and Sir Alex Ferguson was desperate to sign him at Manchester United in the same summer. But Hazard chose Chelsea, and here Mirror Football looks back at the transfer race, and the reasons why United and Tottenham were rejected.
Cast your minds back to the summer of 2012. Chelsea have just won their first ever Champions League trophy in dramatic style against Bayern Munich, and Manchester City had Sergio Aguero to thank for a last-minute winner that secured them the Premier League title.
Euro 2012 was about to kick-off in Poland and Ukraine, although Belgium hadn’t qualified for the third consecutive tournament. Little did we know that Belgium would later become the no.1 ranked team in the world, with a stunning golden generation featuring Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku to name a few.
Hazard was a relatively unknown quantity back then, but he had still attracted interest from the Premier League’s top sides. United approached him with Ferguson ready to make Hazard his winger for the future, but it was Chelsea’s Champions League win that persuaded the Belgian to move to Stamford Bridge.
“When they won the Champions League I told myself, ‘Why not Chelsea?’,” said Hazard after signing in 2012. There was a struggle between Chelsea and [Manchester] United but, for me, Chelsea has the best project. It’s a wonderful club.”
£32m was the fee, and Hazard chose to avoid United as he felt as though he would be given more opportunities at Chelsea. “The [Chelsea] team is young and I have a better chance to play there,” Hazard added. “If I play well enough at Chelsea, I could win my place in the starting team.”
And win his place he did, and he soon became their most important player, and remains one of their most influential players over the past decade. What’s more, is that his observation about the United team being old was spot on, as although they won the title that season, they began to deteriorate.
Hazard went on to win two league titles with Chelsea, and was crowned as the Premier League player of the season during the 2014/15 season. He also scooped up four awards as Chelsea’s player of the season too.
But it wasn’t just United who went for Hazard, as former Tottenham boss Redknapp revealed that they were moments away from signing him before Chelsea stepped in. Redknapp said: “I lost Eden Hazard, he wanted to come to Tottenham but he said he would only come if we got Champions League football.
“We finished fourth that year, Chelsea finished sixth, they won the Champions League and we didn’t make it. He ended up going to Chelsea.”
Ten years after leaving to play in the Champions League, Hazard has finally won it with Real Madrid after they beat Liverpool 1-0 in the final this season. Hazard’s move to Madrid has been somewhat of a disaster, but despite being linked with a move away, he’s desperate to make things work.
“Everything is in order,” Hazard said in a press conference while away on international duty. “I will have a good physical and mental preparation to be ready for next year. It’s up to me to show that I’m not finished, that I still have beautiful things to do.
“I know that if I can get back to my best, I can give them everything. All I need is to play, to have minutes which I hope to have next year. Then we will see the real player again, the real Eden Hazard, I have no doubts about that.”