Eden Hazard Hoax: Website Breaks Fake Story and Fools ESPN

Wes ODonnellFeatured ColumnistMay 21, 2012

MILAN, ITALY - NOVEMBER 02:  Eden Hazard of LOSC Lille Metropole during the UEFA Champions League, group B match between FC Internazionale Milano and LOSC Lille Metropole at Giuseppe Meazza Stadium on November 2, 2011 in Milan, Italy.  (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)
Claudio Villa/Getty Images

It wouldn't be transfer season without false stories about big-name players, and today we saw one of the biggest, and best, hoaxes in some time.

ESPN, "The Worldwide Leader in Sports," was duped into reporting that English powerhouse Manchester United had agreed to terms with Belgian star and French Ligue 1 star, Eden Hazard.

The 21-year-old Lille forward is one of the most sought-after players on the market and has been weighing an EPL move for some time now. A website that was made to look like Manchester United's official site reported that the signing was official and included a team statement:

Eden Hazard will become United's first signing of summer 2012 after the Reds successfully negotiated a transfer with Lille.

A club statement published on Sunday reads as follows:

"Manchester United is delighted to announce it has signed an agreement with Lille for the transfer of Eden Hazard.

"The deal will be completed once the player returns from international duty."

More to follow.

ESPN quickly acted by tweeting about the signing, but they realized their mistake just as quickly and retracted it:

We hold our hands up. We got duped. By this: rnanutd.com/en/News-And-Fe… twitter.com/ESPNSoccernet/…

— ESPN Soccernet (@ESPNSoccernet) May 21, 2012

The site mistaken as United's own used the letters "rn" to look like an "m," and the design work was beyond convincing.

There will come a time soon when Hazard joins an EPL squad, but that time is not this time. United and two newly-crowned champions, Manchester City of the EPL and Chelsea of the UEFA Champions League, are also keen on adding the star playmaker.

What we can take from this is a good laugh at ESPN's expense, and the realization that this is only the beginning of the transfer window.

Buckle up, because if this any indication of what's coming our way, we're in for a bumpy ride.