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Chelsea intent on resisting
Chelsea plan to resist any attempt by Real Madrid to prise Eden Hazard away this summer despite the Belgium forward having suggested the time may be right for him to
move on after six successful years at Stamford Bridge.
Hazard, fresh from captaining his country to a third-place finish at the World Cup, cast doubt over his future straight after Saturday’s victory over England. That was swiftly followed by his compatriot and club-mate Thibaut Courtois intimating that his own performances at the tournament were evidence he is worth more than the £200,000-a-week deal on the table at Chelsea since the end of last year.
Although the club may be willing to sell Courtois, with the goalkeeper having drifted into the last 12 months of his deal, and Chelsea loth to lose him for nothing, there is no desire to part with Hazard. The 27-year-old is contracted until 2020 and Chelsea had hoped to tie him to new terms worth a club-record £300,000 a week. That may be optimistic in the short term but they are ready to reject any bid in this transfer window from Real, who have long coveted Hazard and are likely to be in the market for an attacker after the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo to Juventus.
Hazard has long stated that he sees a future for himself at the Bernabéu, though Chelsea
do not anticipate him agitating for a transfer. He, like Courtois, attended a reception with King Philippe in Brussels on Sunday to mark Belgium’s successful World Cup and will be granted holiday before reporting back to Chelsea, now under the stewardship of Maurizio Sarri, at the beginning of August. Courtois will discuss his future with the club then, but has suggested that he will be seeking an improvement on the terms offered midway through last season.
He kept three clean sheets in Belgium’s seven matches in Russia, including two against England. The 26-year-old, secured from Genk in 2011 and hugely impressive initially through a three-year loan at Atlético Madrid, is settled in London but his former partner lives in Madrid with the couple’s two children, and Real have long retained an interest in bringing him back to
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La Liga. That interest has never been formalised but alarmingly for Chelsea, Courtois has not ruled out remaining at Stamford Bridge for the final year of his deal if the new contract offer does not meet his expectations.
“I will be coming back, for sure, and I will see what they want [to do]and how they say it,” said Courtois on Saturday. “Obviously with this World Cup, I think what was on the table obviously is different than what I can have, maybe. In this World Cup I have ignored all the speculation, all the rumours. But now, in the next few days, I will have a chat with my agent and see what Chelsea told him, and then we will talk.
“But I feel happy at Chelsea. It’s not that I necessarily want to leave. People always complain that players don’t comply with their contracts but maybe they do. I don’t think they will keep someone with my qualities on the bench, even if I don’t sign [a new contract]. But maybe [staying] is possible because I like it in London.”
The landscape has changed at Chelsea since Courtois, Hazard and their teammates celebrated their FA Cup success in May, with Antonio Conte and his staff relieved of their duties and Sarri installed as head coach. That protracted process was concluded last week, though Courtois implied that the club’s board had long since informed the players that Conte would be leaving.
“It’s hard to talk about [the appointment of Sarri] because I don’t know exactly what happened,” he said. “But the decision that was made a few days ago. I think as a group we expected that to happen a longer time ago because we heard what the board said to us already after the season. Then it takes until now [to happen]. I don’t think it’s easy for a new manager to
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come in and shape us in a few weeks.
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