Liverpool are ready to leapfrog Arsenal in the queue to sign Lille’s coveted playmaker Eden Hazard.
The Reds are eyeing one more attacking purchase with an approach for Barcelona’s Ibrahim Afellay having already been made. However, as the player only arrived at Camp Nou from PSV Eindhoven in January, FIFA rules stipulate that a player cannot sign a permanent contract with more than two clubs within a 12 month period unless special dispensation is made by the world’s governing body. With the requisite conditions unlikely to be met, the deal looks doomed to failure.
That has refocused manager Kenny Dalglish’s mind on Hazard who is known to have also caught the eye of Gunners boss Arsene Wenger. The 20-year-old was instrumental in Lille’s historic title win last campaign – their first since 1954 – and he has been courted by several Premier League clubs over the past 12 months. Chelsea had a bid rejected for him in January though Arsenal were now believed to be in the box seat due to their cordial relations with the French club fostered during their succesful negotiations over the transfer of Gervinho.
While the Gunners are happy to meet the asking price of £20m they will only do so with the proceeds of any possible sale of Samir Nasri or Cesc Fabregas. This has left a window of opportunity for the Merseyside club to swoop though they themselves need to sell before they can buy having spent over £100m on players already this year.
Four players – Alberto Aquilani, David Ngog, Milan Jovanovic and Joe Cole – are expected to leave Anfield in the coming days and weeks and it is hoped their departure will raise enough funds and free up enough wages to make a serious offer for Hazard ahead of Arsenal.