Sir Alex Ferguson is ready to step up his pursuit of Lille star Eden Hazard after spending Saturday evening running the rule over the £25 million-rated Belgium international, reports the Telegraph.
Ferguson visited Stade de Gerland over the weekend, his third trip this season to Lille’s home ground this season, to watch the Ligue 1 champions' 2-1 defeat against Lyon.
The paper suggests the Scot wants to lure the 21-year-old to Old Trafford as a replacement for Paul Scholes when the veteran midfielder eventually decides to make his retirement permanent, although Hazard’s style lends itself more to a comparison with another United icon, Cristiano Ronaldo.
Having missed out on Wesley Sneijder and Samir Nasri in recent years, Ferguson is said to be keen to land Hazard and bolster his midfield options, which had looked short before the return of Scholes, largely down to long-term injuries to Tom Cleverley and Anderson.
Any deal for Hazard would like spell trouble for Anderson, who has never fully realised his potential since moving to Old Trafford back in 2007.
The former Porto midfielder’s injury worries mean he has made just 16 first team appearances so far this season, while another knock picked up in the Red Devils 3-2 Europa Leauge defeat against Athletic Bilbao last week means the Brazilian is likely to miss the remainder of the season.
Spurs boss Harry Redknapp has also visited France to cast his eye over Hazard while Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has previously declared an interest in taking him to the Emirates.
Redknapp revealed yesterday he expects to battle United for Hazard’s signature, saying that Manchester City are also interested in doing a deal.
“Our owner is ready to pay for an exceptional talent like Eden Hazard,” Redknapp said on Monday. “But I know Manchester United are also following him very closely. Manchester City too, so it will be difficult to sign him.”
However there is still hope for both London clubs, with Hazard declaring his admiration for both Spurs and Arsenal last month, while the player’s father, Thierry Hazard, suggested that “It might be better to join a club just below the biggest” in order to guarantee regular game time for his son.
Hazard's suitors, which are also rumoured to include Chelsea, Real Madrid, and Barcelona, could be aided in their pursuit of Hazard’s thanks to the impending French elections.
Should the Socialist party gain power, Presidential candidate Francois Hollande’s manifesto includes a plan to implement a 75 percent tax on millionaires in the country, meaning an exodus of talent from Ligue 1 could be on the cards with Hazard leading the way.