The Colombia international, like his Portuguese counterpart, possesses the skill, trickery and flair which makes old-school defenders go red with rage, but he also has the finishing ability and eye for an assist to back up his charismatic, "I'm good and I know it" style on the pitch. Said to be the successor to Carlos Valderrama, if he continues at his current rate for years to come, he'll much more likely be the successor to Eric Cantona at Old Trafford.
And if he is gracing the Old Trafford pitch regularly in the campaign, expect the year-old—who's middle names should be flair, panache and arrogance—to put in some Cantona-esque performances.
Hazard scores goals, makes assists, takes on players, beats full-backs, dazzles central defenders, and leaves a trail of destruction in his wake. He's scored 13 goals and made eight assists this season, a figure which will no doubt rise before the end of the campaign and will improve markedly in the years ahead. Whether Manchester United can realistically get him or not is a different story, but Hazard is certainly a contender to the throne of King Eric.
He's gone for shorter hair and added a bit more intimidation to his game and it's certainly helped Stevan Jovetic in the goalscoring department. The Montenegro international, 22, has scored 12 goals in Serie A from 21 games this season and is beating goalkeepers from all kinds of angles. Linked with a Manchester United move, Jovetic certainly has more potential than most to replicate the impact of the legendary Eric Cantona at Old Trafford, even if he has a somewhat understated style to his play and needs to add more assists to his game.
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However, the year-old attacking midfielder is very much a United type of player and could develop into a Brazilian Eric Cantona. Kelly: "All the directors came in and were stuck in a corner - Mike Edelsen, Maurice Watkins, Martin Edwards - discussing the way forward. Smith: "Afterwards, I saw Sir Alex and he shook hands and said, 'What the bloody hell was wrong with that then?
Because of his tunnel vision for everything, he was even trying to put a case that Cantona had been badly treated. I just sort of said, 'No Alex, totally agree, nothing wrong with it. Everyday occurrence'. Kelly: We let everyone else go out to the coach then me and Eric came out together at the end. There were fans outside baying for blood but I was quite confident I could deal with it and you've got to remember Eric was 6ft 2in and from a rough area of Marseille - he could look after himself.
We got Eric into the car on the tarmac and drove him to the car park, where he got into his own car and drove home. Sir Alex Ferguson, upset at the loss of two points and "enclosed in my other world" on his return home, only starts to fully digest the Cantona incident early the next morning. Ferguson: "By 4am I was up and watching a video. It was pretty appalling. Over the years since I have never been able to elicit an explanation from Eric but my own feeling is that anger at himself over the ordering off and resentment at the referee's earlier inaction combined to take him over the brink.
Churchman: "I worked at a hotel group at the time. My boss phoned me to say he'd seen me on TV. Within an hour of me getting to work the next morning we were besieged by reporters.
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It was quite surreal seeing my picture all over the papers. But it hit home that I needed a new haircut, and a new coat. Ferguson: "We were unanimous that it had to be powerful enough to protect Manchester United's reputation and we agreed that we should impose a four-month suspension on Eric, which would rule him out for the rest of the season. Watkins: "I think the club acted properly in the way they handled it. Eric accepted the punishment we decided to impose. As you can imagine, there were all kinds of suggestions that the club should terminate his contract and all the rest of it.
But the club felt that they had to stand by their player. That is why we were disappointed when, subsequently, the FA decided to heap on a greater punishment. Kelly: "Paul Ince [who was also in court, facing a charge of common assault, on the same day], took him down in his car and they went out on the town.
The tabloid press were there with their cameras and got them leaving Browns [nightclub]I think it was, at 3am. I wasn't there, they went out without me.
I drove down that night and the next day Maurice asked me where Eric was - he knew where they'd been because he saw the papers - and I don't think that helped his case, to be honest. I just grabbed hold of his wrist and pushed my way through. We got him inside eventually and he was signing autographs. Cantona pleads guilty. The magistrate tells him: "You are a high-profile figure.
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The only appropriate sentence is two weeks' imprisonment, forthwith. Watkins: "You could have heard a pin drop when the sentence was imposed. Then, as you can imagine, it was mayhem. Everybody was stunned. Even the prosecuting lawyer was very surprised at the decision of the bench because it ran counter to all the sentencing guidelines. One minute Eric was a free man, the next minute he was taken down to the cells.
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He was in the cells for three and a half hours. Kelly: "I think Eric was in a bit of shock. We all were. I followed him down the stairs with the prison wardens and we went in and sat down together in the cell. One of the old police officers said 'don't have the food in here; I'll go and get you something from down the road'. So I gave him some money and he went down to McDonald's and got some Big Macs and French fries so we ate that and had a good laugh about it.
Then he said, 'I can't be bothered with this, I might be better if I just serve this 14 days and get it over and done with'. I said 'no way, wait until Maurice gets back'. Watkins and his legal team apply for bail, which is turned down by the magistrate. Watkins: "So we had to charge up to the Crown Court, which luckily wasn't too far away. We lodged a notice of appeal and made an application for bail.
Watkins: "We didn't have a lot of time to breathe but at least we got him out and back home and we could start work on the appeal. Eric had a couple of beers before I took him home. Cantona returns to Croydon, this time to the Crown Court, for an appeal hearing. Watkins: "I had a bit of a problem because I had got a bad back. I just couldn't get out of bed.
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They were looking for me. I was trying to get some attention and in the end, the hotel doctor came for me and gave me a few jabs and got me back on my feet again. Cantona's QC tells the judge his custodial sentence is "flawed, and contrary to the express will of Parliament". He is sentenced to hours of community service instead. United then hold a news conference. Watkins: "Eric wasn't too keen but he said 'OK, but I would like to say something'. Then we started drafting what he was going to say. He led by example, defiant, never giving in. It was a three-way relationship between player, team-mate and fans — if he thought it was possible, so did you.
And of course, he scored on his return — against the old enemy Liverpool in October, netting a penalty to salvage a point at Old Trafford. Cantona led the way with 19 goals in all competitions, one of four men to reach double figures. He scored in six consecutive Premiership games through March and April as United faced down the faltering challenge of Newcastle United to take the title.
And it was Cantona again, firing through a crowd scene at Wembley, to see off Liverpool in the FA Cup final to complete a second Double in three seasons.
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That season was the pinnacle of his time at Old Trafford. His deeds burn brightly and will never fade. Vive la resistance! The editor of our monthly magazine tells the story of his journey to Norway to secure an interview with Mr Cantona. On this day in , Eric Cantona returned from a lengthy suspension and scored a vital penalty against Liverpool Eric Cantona signed for United on this day in and the rest, as they say, is history See how The King reacted to another famous European night in United history Juan told us all about meeting King Eric for the first time in person earlier this week.
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