Hazard prompts fury at Old Trafford... but also a response
23:34, 07 Jun 2012
Manchester United are understood to be furious with new Chelsea signing Eden Hazard, having initially thought his transfer to Old Trafford was all but secured.
Chief executive David Gill was exceptionally confident that they – and, specifically, Alex Ferguson – had “sold” the club to Hazard. At one point in the week after the Champions League final, United even felt the deal was so far along that it would be announced the day before England's friendly with Belgium.
The player’s subsequent decision to go to Chelsea has even had some around United likening it to their own capture of Roy Keane from under the noses of Blackburn Rovers in 1993.
Just as Ferguson persuaded Keane with the idea of European conquest back then, it was Chelsea’s Champions League victory that turned Hazard’s head – as well as their significantly superior financial offer.
And, while there were understandable misgivings at Old Trafford over the amount that would have had to be paid the young star’s agent, the Chelsea transfer will again raise concerns over United’s financial clout at the very top level under the Glazer ownership.
Ferguson will now look to divert the transfer funds that were available for Hazard into a bid for Tottenham Hotspur’s Luka Modric. But, although there is a feeling at Old Trafford that United can leverage the situation given Spurs’ absence from next season’s Champions League, they remain hugely reluctant to pay what they consider unrealistic fees for players over a certain age. Tottenham have apparently priced Modric – who is 26 – at £32m and it seems there will have to be considerable haggling if any deal is to be done.
There are still a few minor issues to sort before the club secure the imminent signing of Borussia Dortmund’s Shinji Kagawa while a move for Crewe’s Nick Powell is also advancing.
United retain their interest in Everton’s Leighton Baines but, like Modric, that is a process that could well go on until after Euro 2012.
Miguel Delaney is a European football journalist who writes for the Evening Herald, the Irish Examiner, ESPN, the London Independent and ourselves. In 2011, he was nominated for Irish sports journalist of the year.
Follow him @migueldelaney
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