The Belgian midfielder Eden Hazard triggered the attention of Europe's top clubs yesterday when he said he would leave the French champions Lille at the end of the season.
Hazard, who was voted Ligue 1 players' player of the year last season, told French sports daily L'Equipe he was playing his last season in France. "I feel ready to make it to the next level in a great club," Hazard said. "I stayed in Lille this season because there were still things I had to work on, things to prove. But now, I'm ready."
During the summer Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal, Manchester City and Internazionale were reportedly interested in signing the 20-year-old Belgian. Hazard was also linked with league leaders Paris St-Germain with reports that they were ready to make a €50m offer in January, but Hazard ruled out the move. "Paris is not for now. After France, I want to go abroad," said Hazard, who has scored four goals and set up as many in 12 Ligue 1 games this season.
Hazard's club Lille geared up for their Champions League trip to Internazionale with a 0-0 draw at lowly north-east rivals Valenciennes on Sunday. The French champions lost defender Marko Basa to a back injury after six minutes but the point edged them into third place on goal difference.
Toulouse went above Stade Rennes into fifth after a 1-0 home victory courtesy of Etienne Didot's 26th-minute goal. The win came in spite of Antoine Devaux being dismissed for a dangerous tackle after 55 minutes. In the other Sunday match, the referee showed nine yellow cards and one red in Nice's 1-1 draw with Sochaux.
Leaders Paris St-Germain beat Caen 4-2 at Parc des Princes on Saturday to stay three clear of Montpellier while Lyons, level on points with Lille and six behind PSG after 12 games, won their derby, 2-0 at home to St Etienne.
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