Antonio Conte Targets Eden Hazard, Thibaut Courtois Chelsea Contract Extensions

Christopher Simpson@@CJSimpsonBRFeatured ColumnistDecember 4, 2017

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 02: Eden Hazard of Chelsea and Antonio Conte manager / head coach of Chelsea during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Newcastle United at Stamford Bridge on December 2, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)
Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte is hoping to have extended Eden Hazard and Thibaut Courtois' contracts before the 2018 FIFA World Cup. 

According to Liam Twomey of ESPN FC, Conte said:

"For sure, if you ask me about these two players, I will be very happy when they can have these deals—but I repeat, this is the responsibility of the club.

"I can give my opinion about these two players and, for me, they are two great players, especially because they have a lot of space for improvement. They are very young players and it will be great to keep them with us."

He added: "I think the club knows very well the importance of these two players, and I think they are very happy to play for this club. It is normal during the season to have the contact between the playeror the agent of the playerand the club. I hope that at the end, Thibaut will sign his contract."

Courtois' contract expires in the summer of 2019, while Hazard's comes to an end the following year.

According to Twomey, both players "are the subject of significant interest from Real Madrid," so it's of little surprise the club is eager to secure them for the long term.

Hazard ran the show in the Blues' 3-1 win over Newcastle United on Saturday, as he scored twice to help Chelsea come from behind to win at Stamford Bridge.

Twomey and Bleacher Report's Sam Tighe hailed his efforts:

The Belgian missed the start of the campaign after breaking his ankle in June, but after returning to fitness, he has rediscovered his form.

Goal shared his recent numbers:

At his best, it's not outlandish to compare Hazard with the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

As for Courtois, he's among the best goalkeepers in the world.

Keeping both players at the club is imperative—replacing either would be no easy task—and new deals would put Chelsea in a far stronger position should a club like Real come knocking.

The Blues do not want to find themselves in a situation wherein they lose their stars for free or at a fraction of their value. And with extensions, it would be easier for them to ensure the players stay put or, at the very least, that they receive a phenomenal sum in exchange.