Eden Hazard has revealed conversations with former Chelsea star Joe Cole helped him decide which club to sign for in the summer of 2012.
The Belgium international was the star of a vintage Lille side in the 2010/11 season and Cole was dabbling in Ligue 1 football on a season long loan from Liverpool.
Hazard has since gone on to earn superstar status at Stamford Bridge, winning the PFA Young Player of the Year award last season. At just 23 years old, Hazard is set to play a crucial role for Chelsea in the coming years, but it could have been so different if it was not for their former star Cole.
Speaking to Sky Sports, Hazard was asked whether he spoke to Cole about Chelsea during their time together.
Hazard responded: "Yes. He said to me before I moved 'you have to play for Chelsea. It is the right club for you'.
"I said : 'Ok, Joe, I'll go'."
Premier League interest
Winning the race for Hazard was a significant coup at the time. The winger was deemed as one of the best talents in world football and cost Chelsea a sizeable £32 million. Such a fee seems nominal now, and plenty of other clubs were willing to take the same risk.
Amongst those in the running were Premier League rivals Arsenal and Manchester United. The Gunners were virtually ruled out from the start due to their financial restrictions but Manchester United, led by Sir Alex Ferguson, were firmly in the race.
It was also revealed that Real Madrid had attempted to sign Lille in the summer of 2012 but their bid came too late to scupper his move to Chelsea, who, at the time, were the champions of Europe.
Hazard later admitted that both Chelsea and Manchester United were fighting for his signature. In comes Chelsea transfer fixer Cole, and the Blues got their man.
The playmaker said in 2012: “There was a struggle between Chelsea and United, but I believe Chelsea have the best project."
Manchester United are set to rue their failure in years to come, especially if Hazard's form last season was anything to go by. Hazard was so impressive that Chelsea are set to make him their best paid player and are reportedly close to agreeing a five-year deal worth £200,000-a-week.
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