After Lille’s impressive championship run, which saw them win the double, it is only natural to wonder if any of their star players are going to stay with the team or move on to newer pastures. And while this is a big unknown, it doesn’t stop the rumors from flying around.
Of course, the biggest names that people have been talking about regarding a move are Eden Hazard and Gervinho. Many expect Hazard to stay with the team. Now with a double under his belt, the price for him continues to rise. And since his contract now extends to 2015, it will be harder to pry Hazard out of the hands of Michel Seydoux, who will now look to make an impression on the European stage.
On the other hand, Gervinho’s contract expires in June of 2012. And with his contract expiring in a year, it only makes sense that transfer talks surrounding the Ivorian forward would be front page news.
If Lille knows that they aren’t going to retain the services of Gervinho for another season, selling him during this summer transfer would make sense. If they don’t, they risk a chance of going through an incident like the Marouane Chamakh incident at Bordeaux last summer. Therefore, if he is going to move, he must move now. This might reduce the price Lille might get for him. But if they start firm and offer him to the right team (ie…with money) they could make a decent bit of cash.
A number of EPL teams have been linked to these two players. Of course, Arsenal seems to be linked with every Ligue 1 player, so any news regarding Arsenal should be taken with a huge grain of salt. But another team that has been mentioned has been Manchester City. Obviously, City have enough cash to make these deals work. And if Lille decide to sell Hazard, they could really inflate the price that City could pay for him.
But would Hazard or Gervinho fit into the Manchester City system? Let’s take a look.
First, lets look at Hazard, who usually “starts” as a left wing for Lille. Even though this is where he is classified when the starting formations come out on matchday evening, he does have a big tendency to work the center and drift to the right, therefore, making him extremely fluid.
But still, he does start on the left. The problem is that David Silva also starts on the left. Would Roberto Mancini ask Silva to step aside for the young Belgian? Seems hard to think that he would. And while Hazard can play in the middle of the pitch and has excellent ball control, would Mancini also tell Yaya Toure to take a seat? Again, the answer is more than likely no.
In addition, City have enough substitutes to deal with the absence of any players. Therefore, Hazard could be an extremely expensive substitute. The only other option is to drastically chance City’s formation, and even this would result in Hazard staying on the bench for a good chunk of next season if he makes a City move.
On the other hand, you have Gervinho. As mentioned before, because he is out of contract next season, Lille might be more willing to let him go. And though money isn’t a problem at Manchester City, they could get him for considerable cheaper than they would Hazard.
Gervinho could fit in a number of places which could benefit City. First of all, he could play on the right side of the pitch. And while Adam Johnson is a good player, Gervinho could easily battle for the position, unlike Hazard on the left side. He has the dribbling ability to bring the ball up that side of the pitch and create opportunities for City.
Unlike Hazard, who finds himself floating around the pitch instead of playing a rigid formation style of play, Gervinho pretty much stays on the right hand side of the pitch. And while City are strong all around, they could use another man on the right compared to the left (where Carlos Tevez could also play, in addition to the power they already have on the left).
Another big factor in a possible transfer of Gervinho to City could be his nationality. Yaya is Ivorian. Gervinho is Ivorian. And with Yaya’s box-to-box approach to the game, both of these players could feed off each other, creating scoring chances on both sides of the pitch, giving Manchester City an element of surprise which could catch many teams off-guard.
Therefore, while Hazard moving to Manchester City might sound nice for City fans, it isn’t the practical option. Yes, Mancini could work Hazard exclusively on the right, as he has shown that he can play there. But because this would be a change to the player’s style (as well as possibly having the tendency of drifting to the middle and invading Yaya’s territory), it just isn’t practical to bring in Eden Hazard at this moment. It isn’t worth nearly 30 million Euros to “experiment” with Hazard.
On the other hand, Gervinho moving to City would be a wise choice, and would pay off almost immediately.