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Chelsea seal deal for Hazard

The most coveted young midfielder in European football will join Chelsea. The Belgian star Eden Hazard of Lille was the target of Manchester City and Manchester United as well as the London club, but it is the European champions who have the privilege of paying £32 million for the player, and the small matter of wages of £100,000 a week.

Joe Cole, who played on loan at Lille last season, was a key influence in helping Hazard choose Chelsea ahead of the Manchester clubs. "I've probably put about £5m on his transfer with the amount of things I've said about him," Cole said. "He's got everything. He'll maybe become one of the best players in the world."

The Belgian can play in midfield or just behind a striker. Chelsea will hope that he can develop an effective partnership with Fernando Torres. Hazard is the key signing in what will be a busy summer of rebuilding for Chelsea, who still haven’t appointed a permanent manager.

Didier Drogba, Salomon Kalou and Jose Bosingwa have left Chelsea since the Champions League triumph. Incomers include the winger Marko Marin from Werder Bremen and Kevin de Bruyne from Genk, each costing £7 million. De Bruyne may stay on loan with Genk, or with Lille.

The signing of Hazard is an indication that Chelsea are not willing to lag behind Manchester City when it comes to big spending. Over the summer the two English clubs will be battling each other to acquire the cream of European talent, especially after Euro 2012. The big losers might be Manchester United, who cannot compete financially.

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