MILAN, ITALY - NOVEMBER 02: Javier Zanetti (R) of FC Inter Milan and Eden Hazard of LOSC Lille Metropole compete for the ball during the UEFA Champions League, group B match between FC Internazionale Milano and LOSC Lille Metropole at Giuseppe Meazza Stadium on November 2, 2011 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)
So much for any hope* of Chelsea getting Eden Hazard to reinforce the team this window. The Belgian 21-year-old has described a move away from Lille before Tuesday's deadline as 'impossible', which sounds fairly definitive - he's not going anywhere until summer. What is good news is that Hazard has told French TV station Canal+ that his next destination will be England.
*However small it was.
Hazard has claimed that Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea are on his radar for the summer, and that he wants to play for a top team without fear of only being a reserve player. What does this mean for the Blues' chances of landing him? I'd have to say that they're pretty high. Let's look at the competition and see how things stand with them.
- Manchester City: Hazard would probably be an upgrade over the disappointing Samir Nasri, and City can certainly afford to pay Lille and Hazard the sort of money that his talent would warrant. However, there are several other problems that City will have to address - they have more obvious needs in the centre of defence than in the attack, will probably have to replace Carlos Tevez with the Argentinian essentially going on strike this season. There's also some doubt as to whether he'd manage to get playing time - you get the impression that Roberto Mancini's ideal front four is David Silva, Yaya Toure, Sergio Aguero and Mario Balotelli.
Manchester United: United have Ashley Young, Nani and Antonio Valencia. There's also plenty of evidence that they do not have any money - teams who have cash to spend do not tend to react to a central midfield crisis by coaxing a 37-year-old out of retirement during a transfer window.
Tottenham Hotspur: A team that doesn't really have a striker but has both Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon is not going to be a suitor for Hazard - unless Bale goes somewhere at the end of the season. Unlikely, but not impossible, although the relatively low wages would be an issue for Hazard.
- Arsenal: The wild-card. There's an obvious fit here despite the emergence of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain as a legitimate player. Hazard is comfortably better than Andrei Arshavin, Gervinho and Theo Walcott, and would be an immediate starter on a team that plays pretty football. The problem is money. Arsenal don't pay the sort of fees Hazard will command, and he'll get much higher wages elsewhere.
All of the above considered, and it sounds like Chelsea are in with a very strong shout to land Hazard this summer - they're the only team with money and a clear need. I can't believe I'm already getting my hopes up for the summer window, but there you go.