Saturday 18 August 2018

Chelsea set to repel Spanish giants in bid to keep Hazard

Belgium's Eden Hazard celebrates with a third place medal after the match against England. Chelsea are reported to be ready to reject approaches from Real Madrid and Barcelona for the player. Photo: Toru Hanai/Reuters
Belgium's Eden Hazard celebrates with a third place medal after the match against England. Chelsea are reported to be ready to reject approaches from Real Madrid and Barcelona for the player. Photo: Toru Hanai/Reuters

Matt Law

Chelsea are ready to reject approaches from Real Madrid and Barcelona for Eden Hazard and are confident they can hold on to him for at least another season.

However, they may tell Thibaut Courtois that he can move back to Spain after the keeper said he had proved that he is worth more than the £200,000-a-week contract that was on offer.

Hazard appeared to put his future in doubt by claiming, on the back of a superb World Cup for Belgium, that the time may be right to move on. He also hinted that he wanted to move to Real.

There are doubts, however, over whether Real could match Chelsea's valuation of Hazard, which stands above the £200 million world-record fee Paris Saint Germain paid for Neymar.

With the transfer window shutting in just over three weeks, on August 9, Chelsea are adamant they do not want to sell Hazard.

Chelsea's stance will leave Hazard, who has two years left on his contract, with a decision to make over whether to push for a move or accept the club's verdict.

The club are willing to hand Hazard a new contract worth over £300,000 a week to stay, and talks between his representatives and Chelsea are likely to take place over the course of the next week.

While Real face a huge battle to sign Hazard, they could have more success if they bid for his Belgium team-mate Courtois, whom Chelsea would like to replace with Alisson Becker, of Roma.

Different

Asked about his Chelsea future, Courtois said: "I will go back and I will see what they want and how they say it. Obviously, with this World Cup, I think what was on the table is different than what I can have. In the next few days, I will have a chat with my agent."

Courtois also raised the prospect of seeing out the final year of his current deal, which would mean he would be a free agent next summer, by saying: "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."

Chelsea sacked Antonio Conte and replaced him with Maurizio Sarri while Courtois was at the World Cup, but the 26-year-old has hinted that he was tipped off over what would happen ahead of the tournament. He has also warned Chelsea fans that Sarri could struggle to get his squad ready in time for the start of the Premier League season on Aug 11.

Courtois said: "The decision [to sack Conte] was made a few days ago but I think, as a group, we expected that to happen earlier because we heard what the board said to us already after the season.

"I don't think it's easy for a new manager to come in and shape us in a few weeks. I think fans need to understand we will need some time to adapt to the new manager." (©The Daily Telegraph)

Irish Independent

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