Imagining an Arsenal Team Including Chelsea Midfielder Eden Hazard

James McNicholasFeatured ColumnistMay 7, 2014

Arsenal's Kieran Gibbs, second right,along with teammate  Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, second left, question the referee Andre Marriner, in grey, after being shown a red card during their English Premier League soccer match between Chelsea and Arsenal at Stamford Bridge stadium in London Saturday, March  22  2014. Although Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain blatantly handled to keep out Eden Hazard's shot, it was Kieran Gibbs who was dismissed despite his teammate's protests. Hazard scored Chelsea's third from the resulting penalty.(AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
Alastair Grant/Associated Press

Arsenal have missed out on some big players down the years. Arsene Wenger is renowned for his eagle eye for talent, but that doesn’t mean he always lands his targets. Back in March, he admitted to SkySports that only a work permit issue prevented Arsenal from landing Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure.

Asked if he regretted failing to sign the Ivorian as a youngster, Wenger responded:

It's up at the top. But let's not forget that Yaya Toure had an agreement with us and it's not because we did not want to sign him that he went to Ukraine.

We had to wait for his passport in Belgium. We have made mistakes [with transfers], but this was not a mistake.

He preferred to go to Metalurh Donetsk because he could go there without a passport.


LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 29:  Yaya Toure of Manchester City clashes with Tomas Rosicky of Arsenal  during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Manchester City at Emirates Stadium on March 29, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Shaun Botte
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Toure is not alone in having escaped Wenger’s clutches. The current World Player of the Year, Cristiano Ronaldo, was also an Arsenal target. Speaking in an ITV4 documentary, via the Mirror (h/t ESPN), Wenger revealed:

He was very close to coming here. He has a number nine shirt with Ronaldo on the back from Arsenal Football Club.

What happened was that Carlos Queiroz went to Manchester United and they snapped him away from us because he knew him from Sporting.

That's what life is about. You give your best but sometimes you might find that people are stronger than you. That can happen as well.

The latest star to be revealed as having turned down Arsenal is Chelsea’s Belgian whizz Eden Hazard. In an interview with beIN sport (h/t the Express), Wenger confirmed:

Yes, I wanted to take him.

I had his agent at my home but again the barrier was financial and Chelsea made an effort that I couldn't make.

He can be one of the players who grows into the [Lionel] Messi, [Cristiano] Ronaldo stature if he continues to develop well.

Arsenal fans’ frustration at missing out on Hazard will be compounded by the fact they recruited his haphazard Lille teammate, Gervinho, instead.

What would Hazard’s role be in the current Arsenal XI? At Chelsea, Hazard tends to play from the left-hand side. He could fill a similar role at Arsenal, darting inwards from that flank to link play with Mesut Ozil.

In games when Arsenal needed to keep possession, Santi Cazorla could be deployed on the right-hand side. A trio of Hazard, Ozil and Cazorla would bewitch any opposition defence.

Most of Eden Hazard's appearances have come on the left
Most of Eden Hazard's appearances have come on the leftWhoScored.com

Alternatively, Cazorla could miss out, with Theo Walcott coming in on the right flank. His directness would make for a neat contrast to the intricacy of Hazard and Ozil.

Eden Hazard could drift infield from the flank

At Chelsea, Hazard has suffered without a reliable centre-forward ahead of him. At Arsenal, he would doubtless find Olivier Giroud a useful pivot to play off. 

Arsene Wenger has a rich history of helping attacking talent to flourish. One suspects that if Eden Hazard were an Arsenal player, he might already be pushing even closer to the Ronaldo and Messi level that Wenger believes he could one day reach.

 

James McNicholas is Bleacher Report's lead Arsenal correspondent and will be following the club from a London base throughout the 2013-14 season. Follow him on Twitter here.