Real on alert as Courtois stalls on new Chelsea deal
Thibaut Courtois has said there have been no further developments in his negotiations with Chelsea as he continues to stall on signing a new contract amid long-standing interest from Real Madrid.
Courtois could now enter the final year of his agreement without committing his future to the club, with the goalkeeper suggesting that talks will not continue until the end of the season.
Chelsea have previously warned Real Madrid off making an approach for the Belgian by demanding a transfer fee worth in excess of £70 million (€79m).
But their inability to tie Courtois down to an extended deal will provide encouragement to the European champions, who will hope the 25-year-old could be tempted by a return to the Spanish capital, where he previously played for Atletico Madrid.
Speaking ahead of Chelsea's Champions League match with Qarabag tonight, Courtois said: "The most important thing is to perform well for myself and the team.
"Regarding my contract, that's the thing where Chelsea must deal with my agent. I don't think there have been any new developments.
"We have so many games at the moment and I prefer to focus on the team's and my own performances. There will be time enough towards the end of the season to have talks."
A win against Qarabag, whom they thrashed 6-0 at Stamford Bridge earlier this season, would clinch a place in the knockout stages for Chelsea and remove pressure from their final group game, at home to Atletico.
The build-up to this latest match has been dominated by Antonio Conte's fury over fixture scheduling that means Chelsea will have to play Liverpool on Saturday, less than three days after their 4,000km round trip to Azerbaijan.
Conte complained about Chelsea's "abnormal" fixture list after last Saturday's 4-0 victory over West Bromwich Albion, and yesterday went further by asking for more "respect" to be shown to his side.
"Liverpool are playing tonight and we have to play tomorrow against Qarabag, a long trip," Conte said. "It will be very difficult for us to recover, to rest.
"Whoever prepared the fixtures for the league must pay great attention.
"It is very difficult when you ask me if my team are ready to catch Manchester City if they put us in this type of situation.
"I don't like to find excuses, but this is the reality. Sometimes I think it's right to give respect for our job." (© Daily Telegraph, London)
- Qarabag v Chelsea, Live, BT Sport, 5.0