Champions League winners Chelsea have emerged as top contenders to land Lille playmaker Eden Hazard, reports the Telegraph.
The 21 year old is expected to leave the French Ligue 1 in a £30mn deal this summer, with either Manchester City or Manchester United believed as his most likely destination. The Citizens were thought to be leading the race for the player's signature after Hazard announced he would be wearing blue next season.
However, negotiations have since stalled between Hazard's representatives and the Premier League champions over wage demands and associated costs. Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich is reportedly prepared to outbid his domestic rivals by offering wages of £200,000 per week, according to the Mirror. The report also says sources in France claim the player's agent, John Bico, has travelled to London to seal the deal.
The Belgian, who has been crowned Ligue 1 Player of the Year for the second consecutive season, is arguably the most sought after young talent in European football at the moment. Hazard has been in sublime form for his club this season with 17 goals and 16 assists in 37 league appearances.
That kind of form has attracted the attention of several European giants, including Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and AC Milan. Unfortunately for the continental powerhouses, the player has repeatedly stated he fancies a move only to the Premier League.
Meanwhile, Chelsea boss Roberto Di Matteo has rated the Champions League triumph as an incredible achievement.
The Blues came from behind to beat Bayern Munich 4-3 on penalties, after getting past Barcelona, Benfica and Napoli in earlier rounds to reach the final at the Allianz Arena.
"Football and life are unpredictable at times. I don't think we could have predicted what's happened over the last three months, it's been difficult but to finish like this is an incredible achievement," the club's official Web site quoted the Italian as saying, and adding, "It feels great, you think about it when you watch at home, watching others lift the trophy, but I'm pleased for the players. They've worked so hard over the years to win it, four years ago they had a painful experience and tonight we are on the other hand."
The 41 year old Di Matteo, who took charge at Stamford Bridge following Andre Villas-Boas' dismissal, has guided the Blues to 14 wins during his 21 games in charge, lifting the Champions League and FA Cup and also knocking world champions Barcelona out of European competition in the process.