Chelsea unworried by Eden Hazard's exit talk, focused on talks for new deal - sources
Chelsea's focus is on keeping Eden Hazard despite the Belgian's recent comments fuelling speculation of a move to Real Madrid, sources have told ESPN FC.
Hazard told journalists following Belgium's 2-0 win over England in the World Cup third-place playoff that "it might be time to discover something different" after six years at Stamford Bridge, adding that Real Madrid remain his "preferred destination" if he leaves Chelsea.
Madrid have admired Hazard for many years and are seeking a new Galactico this summer to fill the void created by Cristiano Ronaldo's move to Juventus, but sources told ESPN FC that Chelsea are not overly concerned by their star's words and still plan to hold talks with his representatives about a new contract in the coming weeks.
Hazard has two years left to run on his current deal, a fact that strengthens Chelsea's hand in any talks with him or Madrid. The midfielder also admitted that it will be the club's final decision whether to sell him, reinforcing Chelsea's confidence that he will not actively agitate for a transfer.
Both Belgian newspaper HLN and The Times in England reported on Monday that Chelsea value Hazard in excess of €225 million (£200m), numbers that eclipse Neymar's record €222m move to Paris Saint-Germain last summer.
Chelsea hope that their decision to replace Antonio Conte with Maurizio Sarri and shift towards a more proactive, possession-based style of football will help convince Hazard that he can fulfil his ambitions at Stamford Bridge in the remaining years of his prime, the sources said.
Earlier this summer, Hazard warned the Chelsea hierarchy that he wanted to see quality signings this summer before he would consider signing an extension, but the prolonged uncertainty surrounding Conte and Sarri had a paralysing effect on the club's transfer dealings in June.
Italy international midfielder Jorginho became the club's first signing in a reported £50 million deal from Napoli on Saturday, and more new faces are expected before the Premier League transfer deadline on Aug. 9.
Chelsea also face uncertainty over the future of Courtois, who enters the final year of his contract this summer and hinted that the club will need to improve their offer of an extension after an impressive individual World Cup that saw him recognised with the tournament's Golden Glove award.
Courtois has made no secret of his attraction to the idea of living in Madrid, where his two children reside with his former partner, and Chelsea have been widely linked with a £60m move for Roma and Brazil's Alisson if the Belgian goalkeeper does head to the Spanish capital this summer.
Chelsea will fly to Australia later this week for the first match of their preseason, a friendly against Perth Glory on July 23, though Hazard and Courtois are among several players who have been granted extended breaks to recover from their World Cup exertions.