Chelsea Transfer News: Antonio Conte Comments on Eden Hazard Rumours

Rob Blanchette@@_Rob_BFeatured ColumnistDecember 21, 2017

Chelsea's Belgian midfielder Eden Hazard looks on during the English Premier League football match between Huddersfield Town and Chelsea at the John Smith's stadium in Huddersfield, northern England on December 12, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Oli SCARFF / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.  /         (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)
OLI SCARFF/Getty Images

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has said teams are facing a "difficult period" during the January transfer window, with Eden Hazard linked with a potential bid from Manchester United.

According to George Bellshaw of Metro, the Italian coach insisted his players must remain concentrated in the weeks ahead, as rumours surface about the Belgium international and defender David Luiz.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 15: Antonio Conte manager / head coach of Chelsea throws the ball to Eden Hazard of Chelsea during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Watford at Stamford Bridge on May 15, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Catherine Ivill
Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images

When asked about the two players, Conte said:

"A difficult period is starting. Especially for every player, for every coach.

"In this period there are a lot of rumours. Some rumours are true, some are wrong. We must be ready to face this situation and I think the best way for me is don't read, don't read and only chat with the club and then to try to improve our squad if this is possible. If, I repeat, this is possible.

"There are a lot of rumours now. We must be ready to face these rumours. We must go game-by-game also because we have to play every three days. It's not right that these rumours disturb us."

Neil Custis of The Sun reported United manager Jose Mourinho wants to bring his former attacker to Old Trafford and is willing to pay £90 million to grab Hazard's signature. The player reportedly turned down a new four-year deal to remain with the Premier League champions, with the Red Devils prepared to break the British transfer record once again.

Chelsea football player Eden Hazard (R) and coach José Mourinho (L) listen to questions during a press conference in Sydney on May 31, 2015.  The English Premier League champions take on local team Sydney FC on June 2.  AFP PHOTO / William WEST        (Ph

According to Custis, Real Madrid will compete with United if Hazard opts to leave west London, making the 26-year-old their primary target as they revamp their attack after they try to close the 11-point gap to league-leading Manchester City.

Speaking to Belgian TV channel RTL, Hazard declared he would love to play under Real boss Zinedine Zidane, describing the Frenchman as one of his heroes (h/t the Telegraph).

Hazard said:

"Everyone knows the respect I have for Zidane as a player, but also as a manager. He was my idol. I do not know what will happen in the future. However, for sure, to play under Zidane would be a dream.

"I am enjoying life at Chelsea. I still have a lot of things to achieve with them. I am focused on playing for Chelsea."

Hazard added he would not discount a reunion with Mourinho in future, saying he would work with the United coach "with pleasure."

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 27: David Luiz of Chelsea is hugged by Antonio Conte, Manager of Chelsea after the Premier League match between Chelsea and Everton at Stamford Bridge on August 27, 2017 in London, England.  (Photo by Chris Brunskill Ltd/Getty Ima
Chris Brunskill Ltd/Getty Images

Luiz's future also remains uncertain, with Arsenal and Newcastle United both interested in his availability if the Blues wish to move him on.

David Coverdale of The Sun reported the Gunners are readying a £25 million approach for the Brazil international, but the Magpies could request a loan move for the centre-back as the 18th-place side fight against the prospect of relegation.

Chelsea have lost four of their 18 Premier League matches this term, leaving them 14 points behind leaders Manchester City.

Hazard and Luiz were hugely influential as the club won the title last season, but Chelsea's failure in the transfer market has affected the potency of the squad.

Conte must not allow Mourinho to steal away Hazard from Stamford Bridge, as losing their most creative player to a major league rival would be deeply counterproductive.

If Hazard does leave, a transfer to Los Blancos could be agreed by all parties, with the attacker suited to the style and pace of the Spanish game.