Eden Hazard: the next Premier League superstar?

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"The priority for Eden is one thing: games, opportunities," said the father of Eden Hazard, Thierry, earlier this year. "It might be better to join a club just below the biggest."

On Tuesday, Hazard was named the Ligue 1 Player of the Year for a second successive season and, although there is far from doubt over his credentials, Thierry can be forgiven for hoping his son plays as often as possible during his formative years.

It would, however, appear the Lille youngster is about to be thrust from Ligue 1 notoriety to Premier League superstardom, as a move to one of England's top two clubs beckons.

Hazard Snr is unlikely to begrudge Eden a transfer to either Manchester City or Manchester United but there is, of course, the possibility that this could curtail the Belgian's progress.

A diagonal move to, say, Tottenham or Arsenal rather than a vertical ascent to the Etihad Stadium or Old Trafford would surely suit the 21-year-old better in the present, but Manchester will be his destination this summer.

"I am going to Manchester," said Hazard on collection of his award. "The decision will be taken soon."

Hazard has been the most coveted player in Europe over the past 18 months or so, and his imminent move to the Premier League is reward for consistently high levels of performance and contribution for Lille.

Last season alone, Hazard fired 19 goals and registered 16 assists; taking his club total to 47 and 38 in 191 appearances over the course of four seasons.

But, with reports of a fee around £40 million having been enough to capture his signature, will he represent value for money? Well, in the long-term most certainly. But how much value it will be for Hazard to sign for City in particular, is open to greater debate.

Of course, joining the Premier League champions is an opportunity too good to refuse for Hazard, yet the transition from Lille lynchpin to City squad player may be difficult to digest.

Yet, used correctly by Roberto Mancini, Hazard can become an integral part of any success next season, and establish himself as one of the finest talents in the Premier League.

Most effective when operating on the left side of midfield, or even a front three, Hazard would allow Mancini to deploy David Silva and Samir Nasri in more central positions with increasing regularity.

Silva's influence when starting centrally will increase, while Nasri thrived in the middle of the field when at Arsenal, compensating impressively while Cesc Fabregas was injured.

The France international believes he is more suited to a central role, and Hazard's acquisition could see Nasri be granted his wish on a more frequent basis.

Conversely, the supreme talents of Silva and Nasri - the former of whom contributed 12 assists from wide positions last season - could limit opportunities for Hazard to feature in his favoured position.

Hazard can, however, play through the middle and, in ten appearances in that position last season, he scored four goals and provided a further five.

Yet, so saturated is Mancini's midfield with talent, and such is his preference of selecting defensive players in central positions, working out where Hazard would fit is hardly straightforward.

Mancini said on Tuesday that City will now follow the recruitment models of Real Madrid and Barcelona, and give more attention to acquiring players able to offer something not currently available at the club.

Hazard certainly falls into that category, but it may take some time before he is afforded the opportunity to prove it.

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