Eden Hazard played a little game with English football fans prior to leaving Lille back in 2012.
The Belgian winger, who was 21 at the time, kept people guessing by announcing he would choose between Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United.
The three Premier League clubs were all reportedly keen to sign the highly-rated Ligue 1 star but Hazard took time to make his decision, which depended on the numbers of minutes he would get plus the position he would play.
After weeks of speculation, Hazard finally confirmed that he was signing for Chelsea via Twitter, posting: “I’m signing for the champion’s league winner.”
Chelsea forked out £34 million for Hazard – a fairly hefty fee at the time for a player from Ligue 1.
And Sir Alex Ferguson, who certainly had more hits than misses in the transfer market during his 26-year spell as Man United manager, gave his honest opinion of the Belgium international a month after the transfer was completed.
Fergie felt the fee Chelsea paid both Lille and Hazard’s agent for the talented winger’s services was well over the top.
“There is a borderline in terms of what you would think is a good signing for United,” he was quoted as saying by Sky Sports.
“I see some values on players, like Hazard for instance. To me it was a lot of money. He’s a good player, but £34 million?
“What we’re finding anyway, the climate for buying these top players – not just the transfer fees, the salaries, agents’ fees – is just getting ridiculous now.
“In the Hazard deal, Chelsea paid the agent £6 million. The [Samir] Nasri situation was the same.”
Ferguson went on to admit that he didn’t rate Hazard anywhere close to £34 million and felt at the time that United had done the better value-for-money deal by signing Shinji Kagawa from Borussia Dortmund for £17 million.
“It’s all about what you think is value for a player. I am not envious of those deals at all. We placed a value on Hazard which was well below what they were talking about,” he continued.
“So if it doesn’t work, well we’re not worried about that. We think we’ve got good value in [Shinji] Kagawa.”
Kagawa proved to be a hugely disappointing signing for United, despite winning a Premier League title, scoring just six goals in 57 appearances and struggling to make any real impact at Old Trafford.
Hazard, on the other hand, has netted 96 goals in 308 games for Chelsea, won two Premier League winners’ medals, the Premier League Player of the Season award and is now being talked about as potentially the best footballer in the world.
Hazard’s transfer market value today must be well in excess of £120 million. Chelsea would make a monstrous profit on the initial £34 million they paid Lille if they were to sell their star player within the next year or so.
Kagawa, meanwhile, rejoined Dortmund two years after signing for United for around £5 million.
To make matters worse, Ferguson went on to defend United’s scouting by highlighting the club’s purchase of Nick Powell.
“We scout well,” he added. “Sometimes we do the scouting for other clubs. The minute the agent knew we’d spoken to Powell, I think every club was in with offers. But we’d done the deal.
“Whenever we show interest in a player it activates the situation with other clubs. But we’ve done well over the years. We’ve bought well. One or two bad ones, no doubt about that, but you handle that.”
Powell played nine times for United and now plies his trade for Wigan Athletic in the Championship.
It just goes to show that even the great Fergie sometimes got things badly wrong.