Wenger leading hunt for Hazard

Arsenal are reportedly leading the race to sign Lille's highly-rated Belgian international Eden Hazard, who is likely to leave the Ligue 1 side in the summer.

The 19-year-old playmaker is one of Europe's rising talents after several superb performances for Les Dogues, attracting the interest of Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City as well as the Gunners.

But, according to a source close to the player, Arsene Wenger is the one showing the most interest in bringing him to Emirates Stadium for next season.

"Many top managers and clubs are interested in Eden," the source told Sport.co.uk. "Arsenal have a lot of French players, and Eden is from Belgium, so language would not be a problem.

"He is a talented young player like many of Arsenal’s players, but we will have to wait and see.

"There is a lot of interest in Eden currently as you would expect. Which top club in football wouldn’t want to be interested in such a fantastic talent?

"But obviously one must look at the situation from the perspective of Lille. It is impossible to talk about a move in January, even if the player wanted to leave.

"Lille are leading Ligue 1 and they want to finish the season competing at the top. However a move in the summer is possible, but we will have to look at what offers are on the table.

The Gunners could face competition from Real Madrid for the attacking midfielder's signature, after France legend Zinedine Zidane urged his former club to do everything in their power to bring the young Belgian to the Santiago Bernabeu.

"Eden is technically gifted and very fast. He will be a major star in the future. I would take him to Real Madrid with my eyes closed," Zidane told Marca last year.

Despite Zizou's lavish praise, Hazard has previously expressed his preference for a move to Arsenal, due to Wenger's record in developing the best young talent.

"I am young and it will be difficult to break through in a team like Real, where [Cristiano] Ronaldo and Kaka are my competitors," he said.

"But there are teams like Arsenal, where youngsters can grow more easily into the first team and make their mark."

By James Martini