One of the biggest questions i keep seeing on the internet is whether we were right, or wrong, to miss out on Hazard? Were we right not to pay the big wages he wanted? What about Moura? Were we right to miss out on him? That is what i am going to cover in this segment.
Last summer it seemed we were on the verge of getting him. We had a fee agreed with his club, his agent, and wages were agreed as well (according to his agent). Then PSG, newly rich, forced their way into the saga in the 11th hour, offered him the pretty city of Paris, some more Brazilians, and maybe more money. There are conflicting reports on how much more money was Moura offered by PSG than what United were offering him. Whatever it is that we offered him was accepted by Moura and his agent, which his agent confirms. Moura was also offered more money by PSG, than United, which he himself confirmed. Some reports say he is on 50,000 pounds per week, some say it 200,000 pounds per week. Then there is the complication about the 75% tax rate, and whether or not PSG pay their players taxes, which would mean the Monaco effect (tax free wages). Its difficult to say what the situation was, until more facts come out. But considering the fact that PSG were newly rich then, and very determined to get him, i suspect the PSG offered him a lot more money than we did, so i don’t blame us for losing out on him. But i need more facts to come out before i can say what actually happened.
We had a fee agreed with Lille, which was supposedly over 30 million pounds. Chelsea too had a deal agreed with them, for a similar evaluation. His agent said we had wages and agent fees agreed as well, along with Chelsea and City. But he ended up choosing Chelsea. Why? Maybe because Manchester is not London, maybe because his agent was getting a bigger fee from Chelsea than from us, or maybe because he was being offered higher wages by Chelsea than us, or maybe he really did only want to join the Champions League winners. Lets look at these 4 main factors one by one:
i.) London living
Many choose living in London than Manchester. But, everyone is different, so its not necessary that he choose Chelsea over United due to the London-effect. Fact is, we don’t know, and we probably will never know how much this factor played in his decision.
ii.) Agent Fees
His agent did say that we had passed the negotiation stage and all interested parties (rumoured to be us, Chelsea and City) had sorted out all the factors (wage, agent fees, etc), and now the final decision was up to Hazard. But the manner in which Sir Alex expressed his disgust with how much Chelsea paid Hazard’s agent leads me to conclude that we were willing to pay far less to Hazard’s agent, than what Chelsea were willing to pay. But, i am not sure how big a factor this was, since his agent said we had everything agreed, and the decision was now Hazard’s.
It’s rumoured that Hazard is making between 150,000-180,000 pounds per week, which i am sure is more than what United would have offered. Sure he is young, talented, could be a potential FIFA World Player of the Year winner in a few years time, but so are dozens of other talents that are the same age as him or younger. So many talents don’t reach the peak that everyone thinks they will reach, such as Ricardo Quaresma, who is the same age as Cristiano Ronaldo, and when both were 18 years old, it was Quaresma that most people thought would be the better of the two. Look how that one turned out. Or how about Denilson, who Betis paid a world record fee for, and he ended becoming a colossal flop. Fact is, when it comes to buying talented young players, that have the world at the feet, it is very rewarding if you buy the winning ticket (of which there are few) and very damaging if you get a dud (of which there are many). When United pay out of the ass for a top young talent, they will never, never, never, offer big wages to him (even if they pay a very high transfer fee). Why? Because if by chance the player fails, then since his wages are reasonable, they can offload him and cut their losses. Arsenal are famous for overpaying some of their average players (even though some of them are young and talented), which is precisely why they have great difficulties in finding buyers for them when they are not wanted by Arsenal. The result is they are loaned out year after year until their contract runs out, or some arrangement is made. Examples include, Denilson (The former Arsenal one), Bendtner, Djorou, etc. So, United know the dangers of giving potential stars very high wages that they haven’t earned yet, and will never have matched the wages that a very talented young player demands, if its above a fair and reasonable sum. Why? Because the financial repercussions, should the player fail, is just too great. We don’t have a sugardaddy owner, so there is no safety net that we can rely on to pay the crazy wages should the young player fail, unlike City, Chelsea, PSG, etc.
iv.) Hazard only wanting to join Champions League winners
If thats the main reason, or one of the reasons he wanted to join them, then its just bad luck for us, and there is nothing we could have done about it. Chelsea happened to win the tournament that year. Bad timing for us, i guess.
Note: Wage structure
Sir Alex would never give Hazard 150,000-180,000 pounds per week, in his first season. As i mentioned earlier, the risks are just too great. Paying a high transfer fee for such players is risky enough (and we were ready to take on that risk), but if the player asks for unreasonable wages, then that is the straw that breaks the camel’s back, and we pull out or offer no more. That is the sensible way of running a sustainable club, and i completely support that. Also, do people seriously think that Sir Alex would have given him wages as big as that he is being paid by Chelsea? He would never do that, never, because it makes a mockery of our wage structure. Sure, we do make mistakes sometimes (such as Young being paid around 110,000 to 130,000 pounds per week), but they are accidents, and there was good logic used when the player was bought (Young was a proven EPL player, did well for Villa, and he is English and helps us in the Home Grown Quota) . A talented kid, like Hazard, would have never gotten more than what Valencia, Vidic, Ferdinand, etc are earning, because they are proven first team players, whereas Hazard wasn’t proven (at least not in the EPL).
Had we paid wages that Chelsea were offering, and if we got him, what happens if he flopped? We would be stuck with him for a few years, trying to develop him without succeeding at it? Why? Because we won’t be able to offload him, since his wages would be too high, and no one could touch him with a 10 feet long barge pole, since they won’t be able to pay the wages that he would have been on at United. For every young talent that succeeds, there are dozens that fail. Think back to the names that were tipped for the top, for greatness, but failed. Some quick examples are Freddy Adu, Quaresma, Denilson (the winger), Bostock, Keirrison, Francis Jeffers, Routledge, D’Alessandro, Bojan, Shaun Wright-Phillips etc. All the names mentioned were destined for greatness when they were in their late teens, and were very talented players. Some live up to it, most fail. That is why Manchester United don’t pay big wages to young , talented, but unproven, and not fully developed players. Paying a big transfer fee is risky enough. But paying big wages to them is even more risky, because if they flop (statistics say most will flop, no matter which top club gets them), then they have a player on big wages, that no one else will buy off you since no one will pay him those big wages, and that player will take up a place in your squad for quite a few years. Sure, we would have given Hazard a pretty big contract, but it would be much less that what Chelsea would offer him, and i feel we are right, taking into account the fact that most young talents fail to reach their potential, and because the financial risks for a self-sustainable club like United is too great.
Now, compare the money Hazard is making to Zaha, who is said to be making 30,000 pounds per week at United. He is arguably worth more than that, but what if he flops? Same reason Zaha is on smaller wages, but if he develops well and becomes a big player for us, then he will certainly get a wage rise, which is the club policy. Our goal is to get young, talented, hungry players. The transfer fee could be high, but the wages must be reasonable. This means we can offload them if they flop, and means the player will be hungry to improve and succeed so that he can earn a much higher salary. As Sir Matt Busby said, “You don’t need to chase money at a club like Manchester United, if you’re good enough, it will find you”.
If you prefer we pay sky high wages for top young, talented, but unproven players, then you might as well stop supporting United, because that is something we have never done, and will never do (for the foreseeable future at least). We have our own way of getting young players and developing them, and we have our own philosophy on what they should be earning while they haven’t proven themselves yet, and we have our own wage structure while we must abide by and respect. Sir Alex Ferguson had that approach, Manchester United has always had that approach, and David Moyes will have the exact same approach. There isn’t much point in saying a young, talented, unproven player deserves to be paid 150,000 pounds per week, because it is incredibly risky, and so was the Hazard signing at the time. If by looking at Hazard now, you see that we clearly should have signed him, then hindsight is a great thing. But that wasn’t available to Sir Alex Ferguson and United when they had to decide how much wages Hazard was worth a year ago when he just another very talented, young, unproven player, like so many dozens that appear every single year, of which most do fail. But, we shouldn’t be disheartened by that, because for every Shearer, there is a Solskjaer, for every Ronaldinho, a Cristiano Ronaldo, for every Hazard/Moura, a Zaha.