10 things you need to know about Eden Hazard

Manchester United boss Alex Ferguson has confirmed he went to a Lille v Lyon game earlier this month to check out Eden Hazard .

Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool have been linked with the the midfielder for yonks, and Bayern Munich, Manchester City, Real Madrid and Inter Milan are supposedly in the frame too.

Hazard has already been branded the new Ronaldo (not the fat one), but what do we know about him?

1) The brilliantly named Eden Hazard stands 5ft 8in tall and was born on January 1, 1991 in La Louviere, Belgium.

2) Hazard began his career playing youth football for Belgian side Royal Stade Brainois, before moving to AFC Tubize where he was first spotted by Lille scouts and signed on a youth contract. Known for his raw pace and technical ability, Eden made the first team squad after signing a professional contract in May 2007.

3) He made his first team debut as a substitute in November 2007 against AS Nancy in a Ligue 1 match. Hazard made three more substitute appearances before being moved back down to Lille's reserve side for the remainder of the season, where he helped them to a comfortable fifth place in the league.

4) At the start of the 2008-09 season, new manager Rudi Garcia promoted Hazard back to the full squad and he scored his first goal for Lille the following September. It came in the 88th minute of a league game against Auxerre and, as you can see from the clip below, was an absolute belter. It also made Hazard the youngest goal scorer in the club's history.

5) He went on to make 36 appearances and score six goals for the first team that season, after which he became the first foreign player to win the Ligue 1 Young Player of the Year Award.

6) His form the following season was even better. Hazard scored a brace of important goals against FK Sevojno and Belgian side Genk to help Lille qualify for the group stages of the Europa League. He scored a total of 10 goals in all competitions that season and was nominated for both the Ligue 1 Player and Young Player of the Year Award. He missed out on the former to Lyon striker Lisandro Lopez, but picked up the latter for the second year in a row - becoming the first player ever to do so. And it was surely goals like this amazing run and finish against Genoa that helped Hazard land it:

7) No one could accuse Hazard of being under-rated - he has a list of admirers as long as your arm who are all too willing to talk him up. French World Cup winner Christophe Dugarry dexcribes him as: "Faster than Zidane, more technique than Henry. Custom-made for Real Madrid." His current club captain Rio Mavuba is no less effusive: “He’s a great player, with an immense talent. He has everything a modern footballer needs. He’s actually not that big, but he’s so fast. He’s also very difficult to dispossess and his finishing is top notch.” Former Marseille coach Rolland Courbis even compares him to the current best player in the world. “At times it looks to me like Lionel Messi on the right-hand side," he said.

8) But it's not all been plain sailing. He suffered his first major career setback in the 2010-11 season, when indifferent form led to a spell on the Lille bench and criticism about his physical and mental state from Belgian coach Georges Leekens. It seemed to have a positive effect, however: Hazard was resurgent in the second half of the season, and went on to score a dozen goals - including the only one in the Coupe de France Final win over Nancy. The man himself certainly thinks those earlier dressings-down had a hand in his revival: "I learned a lot during those few weeks, mentally speaking. And since then things have got better."

9) After working his way through Belgium's various youth teams, Hazard made his full international debut in November 2008, coming on as a 67th minute sub against Luxembourg. He's gone on to make 25 appearances for his country.

10) He is by no means the only footballing talent in his family: Eden's mother and father both played professionally and his 18-year-old brother Thorgan is currently working his way through the youth system of Lille's arch-rivals, Lens. His other siblings - 14-year-old Ethan and six-year-old Kylian - are on the books of Hazard's old team, AFC Tubize. If they all develop skills like this then we could be looking at one of the greatest footballing dynasties of all time:

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williamhill.com

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