by Mike Walters
Roman Abramovich has fitted another piece into his £120million Eden project at Chelsea – and Porto striker Hulk will be next.
Belgium international Eden Hazard has completed his switch to Stamford Bridge from Lille on a five-year contract worth £170,000-a-week after the new European champions out-muscled Manchester City and Manchester United in a three-way tug of war.
Now, Blues oligarch Abramovich wants to complete Europe’s most expensive front line by unleashing £32m Hazard, Hulk, who’ll cost £38m, and £50m Fernando Torres next season.
United were favourites to land Hazard, 21, until Chelsea’s heroic triumph in Munich last month turned his head, and he admitted: “When they won the Champions League I told myself, ‘Why not Chelsea?’
“There was a struggle between Chelsea and United but, for me, Chelsea has the best project. The team is young and I have a better chance to play there.”
Hazard, who openly flirted with several of Europe’s top clubs – including Real Madrid and Barcelona – added: “At 21, Real or Barca would have been more difficult for me. If I play well enough at Chelsea, I could win my place in the starting team.”
Abramovich is expected to add Brazil striker Hulk – real name Givanildo Vieira de Souza – to his beauty parade now the Porto forward has agreed terms on a four-year contract.
Hulk, 25, is contracted to Porto until 2016, but has now hinted broadly that he is on the brink of leaving.
He said: “I will always continue to work hard and keep my feet on the ground, regardless of whether I stay at Porto.
“I have won many titles in the past four years at Porto, and I think that I have a great relationship with everyone.
“If the time has come to move on, I’ll do so with a good feeling. I have enjoyed a great time here. I’m sure that they will understand the motives behind my decision if I leave.”
Abramovich, who had also added Germany midfielder Marko Marin to the Bridge payroll for next season, has fulfilled his promise to refurbish Chelsea’s squad expensively to replace the likes of out-of-contract pair Didier Drogba and Salomon Kalou.
Ajax star Gregory van der Wiel has also been linked with a move to the Blues, with the Dutch full-back admitting he would be tempted by any offer from the Bridge.
He said “Yeah, of course. It would be a beautiful club. They did not have the best season but still won the Champions League and that was a great performance.”
Abramovich is still hedging his bets on the manager who will open Chelsea’s defence of their Champions League title.
Roberto Di Matteo, the interim miracle-worker who salvaged two trophies from the wreckage of the short-lived Andre Villas-Boas era, expects to be cast aside if former Barcelona gaffer Pep Guardiola can be persuaded to turn his planned 12-month sabbatical from football into a brief holiday.