Lille youngster Eden Hazard has revealed he turned down the chance to join Chelsea in the summer, admitting he would rather move to London rivals Arsenal.
The Belgian has been linked with a number of top European sides after helping his French team to become title contenders.
With Chelsea now out of the running after being snubbed in June, Liverpool had been thought to be edging ahead of Arsenal in the race to sign the 19-year-old.
Roy Hodgson is thought to have identified four players he wants to bring to Anfield in January but will have to reassess his left-wing target now.
Hazard has admitted he would not like to sit on the bench if he does move and he feels Arsenal would give him sufficient opportunities, rather than places like Stamford Bridge or Real Madrid.
Furthermore, he has also said in the past he does not want to leave Lille until the end of the season, a stance which does not seem to have changed and ruled out a move to Liverpool, who want him next month.
Hazard said: “I could have gone [to Chelsea] last June, but I was not ready to make that big leap.
"Recently, the press have been writing about interest from Liverpool, and it is nice to hear your name being mentioned everywhere, especially with the best teams in the world.
"If I do leave at the end of the season, I don't want to go somewhere I will be on the bench, and it will be difficult to break through in a team like Real, where Ronaldo and Kaka will be my competitors.
"But there are teams like Arsenal, where youngsters can grow more easily into the first team and make their mark.
"I will not leave for another French club because, with 100 matches under my belt for Lille, I don't think I have to prove my qualities for a team in the same league.”
Liverpool boss Hodgson was first alerted to Hazard’s talents after traveling to watch team mate Gervinho. Hazard ran the show for Lille and Hodgson was given another glowing report from Liverpool’s director of football strategy Damian Comolli.
However, Arsene Wenger’s contacts in France are unrivalled and he would love to uncover yet another gem from his home country.
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