Transfer news

Chelsea 'closest' to Lille star Hazard

October 21, 2011
By ESPN staff

Lille's academy director Jean-Michel Vandamme has claimed Chelsea are paying most attention to £40 million-rated youngster Eden Hazard.

Eden Hazard Lille
GettyImagesEden Hazard: The 2010-11 Ligue 1 Player of the Year has been linked with a move for some time

• Kalou considering Chelsea future

With the likes of Didier Drogba, Nicolas Anelka and Frank Lampard now enjoying their twilight years, Blues manager Andre-Villas Boas has been keen to introduce more youth and flair to his squad at Stamford Bridge, with Romelu Lukaku, Oriel Romeu, Juan Mata and Thibaut Courtois joining the club over the summer.

The Portuguese has already stated his admiration for Genk's Kevin De Bruyne, but it is Lille star Hazard who is currently attracting most attention around Europe. Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester City and Inter Milan are all believed to be pursuing the 20-year-old, but it is Chelsea who head the queue.

Inter captain Javier Zanetti recently confirmed the Italians are "very interested" in Hazard, although it appears they sit behind Chelsea, Real Madrid and Barcelona as the player's preferred options.

"Eden is certainly willing to stay at Lille at least until next summer." Vandamme was quoted as saying in the Daily Mail. "The buyer will have to come up with a lot of money - let's say he is not currently to go for less than £40 million.

"Chelsea has been following him the closest. The Spaniards have not manifested themselves yet, but I think they are playing it smart and will call when they know they have to - I'm talking about Real Madrid, but also about Barcelona."

Hazard's agent has already revealed that Arsenal failed in their attempt to sign the playmaker during the summer transfer window.