Liverpool could be attempting a move for one of the hottest prospects in European football, Lille star Eden Hazard.
The club are hoping to exploit their pre-existing links with Lille through the current loan deal that saw Joe Cole move across the Channel in the summer.
The Anfield outcast made a quick impact at the Stade-Lille Metropole and the French Lige 1 title contenders are keen to make Cole’s move a permanent one.
Cole told Mirror Sport: “I’d like to leave a legacy here. The fans have taken to me straight away, and that really helps.
“They bring a Union Jack to every game, and they sing ‘Hey Jude’, which the rest of the team find hilarious.
“I’d like to win something here, I’d like them to look at me as Chris Waddle is viewed down in Marseille – they love him down there, and he’s still a legend.
“Who knows what may happen, but I find it really exciting to be here in Lille and it makes me feel proud to be so well accepted and respected.
“People always ask me about going home, but I can see no reason for doing that right now.
“I’m a Liverpool man, and I have a lot of friends there still, but I’m really enjoying my time here, and I feel I fit in.”
This strengthens Liverpool’s position as they may try and engineer a swap deal in the summer. Obviously Lille will want to keep both players as they were the stand out performers in their Champions League win at CSKA Moscow.
Lille President, Michel Seydoux told a press conference: “Cole is becoming an important member of our team, and even though he is currently Liverpool’s player, it is not a certainty that he will leave us again at the end his [loan] contract.
“We would like to keep Hazard too, and if he still sees a challenge here, then he could stay. It’s probable, though, that he will leave the club after this season, as there’s plenty of interest.
“Will €50million be enough? Nobody is irreplaceable and there are solutions for that kind of money.”
The problem Liverpool face is that there is a long line of clubs with an eye on Hazard, some of Europe’s biggest and richest teams are monitoring the situation.
If any of the clubs that have already been linked with the 20-year-old, such as Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester City, Bayern Munich, Paris-Saint Germain, Inter or Chelsea meet Lille’s £43m plus evaluation then Liverpool could be priced out. Perhaps Liverpool should have spent the £50m they got for Fernando Torres more wisely.
Hazard has himself stated on numerous occasions that he wants to leave Lille in the summer, and preferably for Real.
He also confirmed on his own website that both Milan clubs made approaches in the summer, but remained at Lille as he was unsure over who his suitors’ personnel would be at the start of the season.
In L’equipe, the Belgian international revealed that PSG were lining up a €50m bid in the summer, and Spanish newspaper EL Confidencial reported in an interview with Hazard that he was ‘waiting for Real’.
It read: “He [Eden Hazard] would only be interested in an offer from Real Madrid,” citing sport’s director, Zinedine Zidane, as a factor in the player’s decision.
But he has a contract until the summer of 2015 so Lille are firmly in the driving seat for the next few transfer windows at least.