Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini will lead a charm offensive this week as the Premier League champions attempt to complete a 32 million pound deal for Lille star Eden Hazard.
The Belgian wonderkid played his last game for the French side on Sunday night and is at the center of a transfer tug-of-war between Manchester United, Chelsea and City after revealing he is yet to decide where he will be playing next season.
City had hoped Hazard would confirm his intention to move to the Etihad Stadium on Monday but they have been frustrated by the demands of the player and his agent, who has asked for nearly five million pounds for his part in any deal.
The freshly crowned English champions remain favorites to sign the 21-year-old but they are concerned by suggestions that Hazard’s representatives looked to initiate talks with Chelsea towards the end of last week.
Mancini has made Hazard his top transfer target and will now personally intervene and talk to him when he returns to Manchester this week from Abu Dhabi, where he has been meeting the club’s owners about a new contract.
City captain Vincent Kompany has also been briefed to talk to Hazard when he shares a dressing room with his compatriot for Belgium’s game against Montenegro on Friday night. Kompany is nursing a calf strain sustained on the last day of the season but will still link up with the national team.
Chelsea’s emergence as contenders for Hazard’s signature is a concern to City after the Blues triumphed in the Champions League final on Saturday night, in the process earning a place in the competition next season.
Blues owner Roman Abramovich is ready to fund a regeneration of the squad over the summer and could be ready to meet the representative’s demands, while Hazard has continually spoken of his desire for a regular fist-team role.
The Ligue 1 player of the season is one of the most highly-rated talents in Europe and has been in stunning form this season, scoring 20 league goals and providing 22 assists.
City has offered Hazard wages in the region of 100,000 pounds-a-week and the assurance of regular football to lure him to the Etihad Stadium. It has also shown him around the city to look at houses and he was a guest at the Manchester derby at the end of April.
Le Parisien has also suggested that City has agreed to play Lille in a pre-season friendly this summer to open the French club’s new stadium, which has prompted claims it could be part of a deal for Hazard.
But after scoring a hat trick against Nancy on his final Lille appearance on Sunday, Hazard revealed he is yet to make a decision on his future and suggested Chelsea’s triumph in the Champions League had forced a rethink.
"It is possible that Chelsea's arrival at the negotiation table will delay things, as nothing is done until I sign a contract," Hazard told Canal +.
"Chelsea can make you hesitate, next year they will play in the Champions League. So we will see."