Chelsea are ready to reject approaches from Real Madrid and Barcelona for Eden Hazard and are confident they can hold on to their star man for at least another season.
But the Blues may tell Thibaut Courtois than he can move back to Spain after the goalkeeper claimed he has proved that he is worth more than the £200,000-a-week contract that was on offer.
Hazard appeared to put his Stamford Bridge future in doubt by claiming, on the back of a superb World Cup, that the time might be right to move on. He also hinted that he wants to move to Real.
There are serious doubts, however, over whether Real could match Chelsea’s valuation of Hazard that stands over the £200 million world record fee Paris Saint-Germain paid for Neymar.
And with the transfer window shutting in just over three weeks, on August 9, Chelsea are adamant they do not want to sell Hazard and are planning for him to start the Premier League season with them.
Chelsea’s stance will leave Hazard, who has two years remaining on his contract, with a decision to make over whether or not to push for a move himself or accept the club’s decision.
The Blues are willing to hand Hazard a new contract worth over £300,000-a-week to stay at Stamford Bridge and talks between his representatives and the club are likely to take place over the course of the next week.
While Real face a huge battle to try to sign Hazard, the Spanish club could have more success if they bid for Courtois who Chelsea would like to replace with Roma’s Alisson Becker.
Courtois is now in the final 12 months of his Chelsea deal and the last offer the club made to him was a £200,000-a-week contract in December, which they believed at the time he would sign.
But Courtois stalled over committing himself and is likely to find that his demand for a better offer to stay is ignored.
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 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.”
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 (a new contract). But maybe (staying) is possible, because I like it in London.”
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 August 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 and then it took until now.
“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 and a different style.”
Despite the fact he was already rated as one of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League, Courtois believes he proved his critics wrong in Russia and elevated himself to one of the best in the world – along with England’s Jordan Pickford.
“I’m very happy with the team performance and I’m very happy with my own performance,” said Courtois. “I know this is my level, despite the people who called me a bad goalkeeper. I think I proved a lot of people wrong and I know this is my level.
“To call me the best in the world, I don’t know. Jordan Pickford made some good saves against Sweden and Colombia, and Hugo Lloris made against us a very good save, and also against Uruguay.
“I don’t think you can decide (who is the best) on the amount of saves, I think if you did, then I exceed everyone. But sometimes it’s just that one save that does it. The keepers I mentioned, Subasic as well, maybe all four were on a high level.”