The race to sign Lille’s Eden Hazard is beginning to hot up, but not everyone can sign him – so who else is there to have instead?
Arsenal were heavily linked with the Belgium international last year and all the way through into January, but his reported price tag of £33million has cast any move to Emirates Stadium into much doubt.
Since then more of the Premier League’s big spenders have been name-checked in conversations over where Hazard’s future lies, which seems to have relegated the Gunners to the role of a flirty suitor from the past.
Once names like Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United are mentioned, it is usually safe to assume that Arsene Wenger will not be taking his interest any further.
So, now that it looks likely the 21-year-old won’t be moving to the red half of north London, who can Wenger turn to for a more bargain price?
They have been mentioned in the same breath as many players this season, with most being touted as the solution to Arsenal’s nightmare season that hasn’t ended yet and could actually turn out to be not so bad.
GMF has reviewed some of these options and have come up with five of the best transfers to go for instead of Hazard, but are in the same vein as the skilful attacker.
Younes Belhanda. Montpellier
While much of Montpellier’s success in Ligue 1 this year has been attributed to the scoring prowess of striker Olivier Giroud, his creative partner has played as significant a role.
Belhanda has scored seven goals and made three assists in the league this season, though his dribbling and dangerous delivery from crosses has been integral in his side’s threat to the opponent’s goal.
Has a good passing range and can play in a number of positions, but he does not have as big a profile as Hazard and would definitely not be as expensive. His coach has likened him to former Arsenal favourite Robert Pires – praise indeed.
Junior Hoilett, Blackburn Rovers
The Canadian winger has been attracting much interest from other Premier League clubs with some impressive performances and his form will likely be one of the main factors in the struggling side avoiding relegation.
Small but stocky, Hoilett has shown a talent for taking on defenders and cutting in from the left flank effectively, as well as a taste for spectacular goals.
At just 21 years old Hoilett has shown great potential and his current contract with Rovers runs out at the end of the season, meaning he would be available for only a small compensation fee.
Marko Marin, Werder Bremen
The 23-year-old German international had a subdued couple of years after the 2010 World Cup, but he has come back to something like his best form in recent months.
An exciting creative player, Marin has great potential to become a Germany regular and will likely move to a bigger club at some point in the next year or so.
His age and the high regard Werder gave for him will mean he does not come cheap, but it would be nowhere near the sums being suggested for Hazard.
Matias Suarez, Anderlecht
The Argentinean striker has become a key player in the Anderlecht line-up since Romelu Lukaku left to join Chelsea in the summer and he was top scorer in the Europa League while the Belgian side were still in the competition.
He is a quick and skilful striker who can play as a central forward as well as in wide positions – he has good passing ability and tops the Belgian league for assists, with 13, and has also scored 11 goals.
There were rumours of a pre-contract agreement between Arsenal and Anderlecht, but have not been confirmed by either club. Reports suggest a fee from around £10million is the likely price to pay.
The Spin Under-21 international has come to prominence this season and forced his way into Malaga’s starting XI since his summer move from cash-strapped Valencia.
A diminutive midfielder who has great ball control, Isco has been impressing many with displays in La Liga and Wenger has been linked with a move.
He fits the mould of a classic Arsenal signing from recent years due to his size and technical ability – his demeanour and play bare a striking resemblance to current Gunners player Jack Wilshere.
He moved to the club from Andalucía in July and would likely command a sizeable fee.
There we have five alternative signings for Arsenal and Arsene Wenger if the price gets too high in the bidding for Hazard.
Lukas Podolski is reportedly close to a deal with the Emirates Stadium club to move from Cologne in the summer, which indicates Wenger is willing to get his business done early this year.
There is also the emergence of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to consider, as many believe he will develop into a regular starter next season and hope the promise he has shown in bursts can be developed to make him a true world-class talent.
Who do you think Arsenal should sign if they cannot get Hazard? Comment below to let us know…