Man United join the race for Arsenal target Eden Hazard
Alex Ferguson impressed by young Belgian, but City and United miss out on Christian Eriksen
THIS summer's big transfer tussle is shaping up nicely after Alex Ferguson let it be known that Manchester United are ready to join the race to sign Lille's talented youngster Eden Hazard.
The 21-year-old Belgian is one of the hottest properties in European football and has been linked with a big money move to the Premier League for more than two years. Arsenal have led the chase for his signature since Hazard burst onto the scene as a teenager, but that has not stopped him being linked with moves to Chelsea, Spurs, Liverpool and anyone else with deep pockets.
Earlier this year Ferguson himself travelled to France to watch him play. Now, during an interview with French radio station RMC, he has declared himself a fan of the midfielder, which can only be interpreted as a clear statement of intent.
"I came to watch Lille play Lyon and followed Hazard of course, along with other players," said Fergie. "He is a very good player who has many qualities. He is particularly fast over the first 10 yards."
If Hazard does end up in Manchester he may have to fight for his place in the spotlight, as two of the city's most controversial stars look set to remain there next season.
AC Milan, linked with both Carlos Tevez and Mario Balotelli, have ruled out a move for either player this summer, and Balotelli's agent has reaffirmed his commitment to City.
The Mirror reports that when he was asked about Balotelli, who is a Milan fan and has declared a desire to play for them one day, Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani said he had had no contact with the player. He was even more blunt when it came to Tevez, and claimed he had never even heard of the mutinous Argentine.
City fans will be even more pleased with the latest comments from Balotelli's agent Mino Raiola, who announced: "Mario is good for City and will remain there."
One player fans won't be seeing wearing United red or City blue next season is highly-rated Ajax youngster Christian Eriksen. The 20-year-old Dane had been linked to both Manchester clubs as well as AC Milan, but his agent has poured cold water on rumours of a move and told Italian website Calciomercato that he is going nowhere.
Martin Schoots said that the youngster needed to concentrate on his game, and explained that he did not want to increase the pressure on him by considering a transfer. "At this time... his task is to grow at Ajax," he said.
There is good news for Arsenal fans as Sky Sports reveals that former Gunners keeper Manuel Almunia will leave the club this summer. The 34-year Spaniard, who somehow made 175 appearances for Arsenal, has been left surplus to requirements now that Arsene Wenger has finally found a reliable number one in Wojciech Szczesny.
When Almunia's contract expires at the end of this campaign he will bid farewell to the Emirates, although he is hoping to find another club in England. "I'm looking for a nice move next season," Almunia told Sky Sports. "I want to start a new episode of my life."