Chelsea’s dramatic Champions League triumph was the final confirmation needed for Eden Hazard to decide that a transfer to Stamford Bridge from Lille represented the right move for his career.
Hazard was presented with the opportunity to sign for either Chelsea, Arsenal or Manchester United in the summer transfer window of 2012 and, of course, opted to move to west London, much to the despair of Arsene Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson.
All three clubs were reported to have agreed to pay Lille’s £32 million valuation of Hazard, which left the decision on his destination completely up to the player himself. It was all rather Lebron James-esque.
The confirmation that Chelsea had emerged victorious in this intense pursuit of the Belgian came from the lips of Hazard in the days after the club had clinched their maiden European Cup, and this win played a key part in his thinking.
“Of course. I was in a hotel in Lille,” Hazard told Sky Sports when asked if he remembered the win over Bayern Munich.
"I remember one guy; Didier Drogba (laughing), and Petr Cech.
“Yes [it enhanced my ambition to play for Chelsea]. When they won the Champions League, after that season, I chose Chelsea. Now I am very happy. I hope we can win the Champions League again.”
Chelsea begin their 2014-15 Champions League campaign with the visit of Schalke on Wednesday evening and, as ever, have been placed among the favourites to win the competition, with odds as short as 11/2.
Hazard will, of course, be key to the club’s prospects of achieving more European success, and his importance to Chelsea will be represented when he is made the highest paid player at Stamford Bridge.
It has been confirmed by Jose Mourinho that Hazard is in negotiations with the club over a new deal, which he expects to be agreed within a month, and the 23-year-old is set to earn around £52 million over the course of the five-year agreement.
Hazard has scored 31 goals in his two seasons with Chelsea to earn this lucrative pay increase, although he is eager to improve further in order to be judged among the game’s very elite players.
Mourinho has claimed that Hazard is capable of becoming winner of the Ballon d’Or, although he is tasked with becoming the leading star in a Chelsea team that now includes Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas, with both having outshone him so far this season, if he is to do so.
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