London (AFP) – Antonio Conte wants both Belgian star duo playmaker Eden Hazard and goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois to remain with champions Chelsea despite speculation they would like to move to Spain.
Hazard’s father told a Belgian newspaper his son doesn’t wish to commit to a new contract — he still has over two years left on his present one — because of apparent interest from Spanish giants Real Madrid.
Courtois, who had a highly successful spell with Atletico Madrid, has said he would like to return to Spain one day especially as his children are being brought up in Madrid.
However, Conte, speaking on the eve of his side’s match with Stoke City, stonewalled on both counts saying in the case of 26-year-old Hazard whatever was said would not be revealed in public.
“This is a private conversation — between the club and the player, and the agent of the player,” said Conte.
“I’m proud to have him in my team, in my squad, and I’m very happy to work with him.
“He’s a really good guy and has a lot of space for improvement, to become one of the best players in the world.
“But, I repeat, on this issue: this must be a private conversation between the player, the player’s agent and the club.”
The 48-year-old Italian — whose side are third in the table 16 points adrift of leaders Manchester City but just one behind a stumbling Manchester United — said he was not aware of the family situation regarding 25-year-old Courtois.
“Courtois has a contract, also for next season, with the club,” said Conte.
“We are talking about a fantastic goalkeeper, a really good guy, and I’m happy to work with him.
“I don’t know about this issue (surrounding Courtois’ family living in Spain).
“For sure, when you are in a great club and you trust in the project, you want to stay. You want to continue to play for this team. The family is not a problem.
“You are talking about two important players for us.
“It’s very important to try to improve your team, to strengthen your team, and not to sell the best players.”