- Antonio Conte insisted any talk over Eden Hazard's future should remain private
- Speculation continues to mount over whether Hazard will leave for Real Madrid
- His dad, Thierry, has claimed the playmaker ‘refused a contract extension'
- Conte is desperate to keep hold of the forward who is under contract until 2020
Published: 09:59 EST, 29 December 2017 | Updated: 10:46 EST, 29 December 2017
Thierry Hazard said this week that his son ‘refused a contract extension so that, if necessary, he could follow the interest of Real, whom he could see himself playing for’.
Hazard is under contract until 2020 and formal talks over an extension are yet to commence, but Conte is desperate to keep the forward.
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has refused to be drawn on Eden Hazard’s future at the club
Hazard's father Thierry has reiterated the playmaker's interest in joining Real Madrid
He said: ‘My answer is always the same: this is a private conversation between the club and the player, and the agent of the player. The same speech for Eden.
‘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.’
There remains greater uncertainty over the future of Thibaut Courtois. The goalkeeper has 18 months to run on his contract and is said to want to return to Spain, where his children live.
There is also uncertainty over Thibaut Courtois, who has just 18 months to run on his contract
Conte said: ‘Courtois has a contract, also for next season, with the club. We are talking about one of the best goalkeepers in the world. Me and my staff are proud to have him as goalkeeper, and proud to create this synergy, this link between three fantastic goalkeepers with Thibaut, Willy Caballero and Eduardo. I'm very happy to have these three players.
‘For sure, if you ask me if I hope Courtois stays, yes for sure. We are talking about a fantastic goalkeeper, a really good guy, and I'm happy to work with him.’
Asked about the complexity of Courtois’ family situation, Conte added: ‘I don't know about this issue. 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. I think the family is not a problem.
Chelsea stars Alvaro Morata (left) and Marcos Alonso (right) train at Cobham on Friday
Conte will hope his Blues squad can pick up three points against Stoke on Saturday
‘But I repeat, this is a private conversation between the player, his agent and the club. My only hope is that I continue to train him because I'm very happy with his commitment, his behaviour and the atmosphere the three goalkeepers have created with the goalkeeping coaches.’
Chelsea face Stoke on Saturday and sit a full 16 points off leaders Manchester City. Conte admitted finishing in the top four would represent a successful season.
He said: ‘I think, in this league, to finish in the top four will always be a successful season. This is the only league to have six top teams to fight every season for the title. And then there are only four places for the Champions League and two for the Europa League. You have to fight for this competition, to fight to qualify for this competition.
‘When your competitors are doing so well, like Manchester City, it's very difficult to think about fighting until the end for the title. But at the same time we must try to fight in every game, for the three points and to give satisfaction to the fans, and to give everything.’
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