Arsenal & Chelsea handed £40m playmaker lifeline

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Arsenal and Chelsea have been handed a transfer lifeline in the race to sign Belgian sensation Eden Hazard.

The 20-year-old playmaker was heavily linked with a move to the Gunners during the summer, with Arsene Wenger believed to have failed in a £26 million-move for the player.

"Arsene Wenger wanted Hazard, but Lille said no to the Arsenal sale last summer. Real Madrid have been watching too," agent John Bico told The Sun earlier in the month.

However, Lille academy director Jean-Michel Vandamme weighed into the debate last week, claiming Blues boss Andre Villas-Boas was winning the race to sign the player.

"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," Vandamme told the Daily Mail.

"Chelsea has been following him the closest. The Spaniards have not manifested themselves yet, but I think they are playing it smart."

Just two days later, reports surfaced claiming Real Madrid had agreed a pre-contract with the player, but sources close to the club have told Spanish publication Marca that a deal has not been done.

The news will be a major boost to Arsenal, who have been tracking the starlet's progress in Ligue 1 for some time now.

Wenger has a track record of getting the best out of young players at the Emirates, and spent big in the summer looking to strengthen his attacking line following the departures of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri at Arsenal.

Gervinho, Park Chu-Young, Mikel Arteta, Andre Santos and Yossi Benayoun all arrived, but after a disappointing start to the campaign, the Arsenal boss is expected to spend big in the transfer window once again this January.

Villas-Boas also spent big following his arrival at Chelsea, with Juan Mata, Romelu Lukaku and Oriol Romeu three high-profile additions at Stamford Bridge.


The signings also showed a significant move towards building for the future in west London, with young players dominating the Chelsea transfer policy following the former Porto manager's arrival.

Kevin de Bruyne is another youngster thought to be on the club's radar, and along with Hazard, Chelsea appear set to bring Europe's finest to the club at every possible opportunity.

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