Hap-Hazard: Player power reaches new levels after flirting Belgian has England's big guns at his mercy

The Lille star's teasing, before finally revealing that he intends to joining Chelsea this summer, has shown the amount of influence stars have among the Premier League's elite

By Miles Chambers

Eden Hazard has toyed with, teased and twisted the biggest clubs in the Premier League during his pursuit of a mega-money transfer from Lille.

It looks as though Chelsea will be the club to fork out 112 million over five years for the 21-year-old which, considering he is unproven at the top level, is incredible.

On Monday night, the attacker revealed his intention to snub the serious interest from Manchester City and Manchester United in favour of a switch to Stamford Bridge.

The Champions League holders were the only club willing to bow to Hazard's huge wage demands. Arsenal and Tottenham were once in the hunt for the Belgium international, but evidently the race has been more of a marathon than a sprint.

His contract demands of around £200,000-per-week were enough to scare off even City, never mind the lesser wage ceilings in north London’s elite clubs.

Such player power among Premier League clubs is nothing new in the big, wide (and weird) world of the transfer market.

Although Hazard has adopted a whole new tier of control, his path has been walked numerous times among top level stars in the English game.

Admittedly clubs eventually buck, but with the most prized players it takes an awful lot of pressure. The Carlos Tevez saga, for instance, shows just how far clubs are willing to bend.

In any other line of work, if your employee refuses to perform and will not even stay in the country it would not be long before his P45 was in the post.

But Manchester City welcomed back their former captain with open arms towards the end of the season - a stark contrast to Roberto Mancini’s claim the Argentine would never play for the club again.

Wayne Rooney’s contract saga towards the end of 2010 was a wake-up call for his boss Sir Alex Ferguson.

The Scot used to insist that no player was bigger than Manchester United and it was upheld at every juncture, including with David Beckham and Jaap Stam.

But Rooney’s ultimatum conjured up a different tactic at Old Trafford, one where they succumbed to his contractual demands.

The club Hazard has decided to call home next season also has history in allowing those who top the wage bill to dominate behind the scenes.

The Chelsea old-guard who were unhappy with the way Andre Villas-Boas ran the show at Stamford Bridge also have the heftiest pay-packets. As a consequence, the Portuguese coach did not last nine months in charge.

A recurring theme to these examples of player power has been fan forgiveness when the outcome is rosy in the long term.

City’s title triumph has put Tevez’s troubles in the background and Rooney is loved by the Stretford End masses after a brief period of disgruntlement because of his goalscoring antics.

"The Belgium international has had his fun and games, playing the master puppeteer just waiting to make his millions."

At Chelsea, the old guard are revered as heroes after bringing the Champions League to west London, and much of the blame for their poor league form has been pinned on the unfortunate AVB.

These situations are not the exception either; clubs lower down the league ladder can be subject to ransom too, just on a lower financial scale.

What makes Hazard’s case so unique is that he was able to flirt and manipulate clubs with no investment in him yet. Normally, clubs subjected to player power are those who already pay their salary.

The Belgium international has had his fun and games, playing the master puppeteer just waiting to make his millions.

But soon the teasing will stop and the hard graft begins - soon he will need to prove to the Chelsea faithful that his hype is worth believing.

Stamford Bridge supporters are deservedly smug - they secured his signature ahead of two Manchester teams that finished further away in points from the Blues in the league than 15th-placed Wigan Athletic.

However, if Hazard should flop, the way the playmaker has made his transfer an auction will come back to haunt him.

For all the flak Fernando Torres gets for having scored so little since his move from Liverpool for £50m in January 2010, at least the Spaniard kept the move low-key with no inflammatory public comments.

On the other hand, if he steps up to the top level with prowess and justifies his price, Hazard will become the latest to illustrate why player power is so prominent and why clubs will continue to be at their mercy.

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