Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri has said it's "impossible" for Eden Hazard to leave the club now that the Premier League transfer window has closed, despite ongoing links between the winger and Real Madrid.
The Estadio Santiago Bernabeu has been touted as the star's most likely destination should he leave Stamford Bridge, but Sarri said in a press conference on Friday that an exit is now off the table:
"I think it's impossible. It's impossible because, here, the market is closed. We cannot change important players now, so I think it's impossible.
"Hazard is with us. I have spoken with him three or four times for everything, and he never said something about the market. So I think he is very happy to stay here."
The Premier League's summer transfer window closed on Thursday evening, and while clubs are still free to sell their stars, they're unable to register any more players, and thus Chelsea couldn't sign a replacement.
Hazard only recently returned from his holidays after leading Belgium to third place at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, and he appeared to be in good spirits when turning out for training on Friday:
Chelsea begin their Premier League season at Huddersfield Town on Saturday.
The Blues finished fifth in the league last term and will not feature in the UEFA Champions League, which has been speculated as one of the major factors that could open the door to a Real Madrid switch for hazard.
Regardless, Chelsea have always been adamant in their efforts to retain three-time Chelsea Player of the Year Hazard, and Belgian journalist Kristof Terreur verified their robust defence of the wing wizard this summer:
Kristof Terreur 📰 @HLNinEngeland
✍🏻 That’s another transfer window over. 🙏🏻 He had a Spanish dream, but Eden Hazard will start his 7th Premier League season with Chelsea. That was pretty clear a week ago. Chelsea unwilling to negotiate with Real Madrid. Marina Granovskaia rejected all approaches. #cfc https://t.co/gFtiEoSkip
Stephen Darwin of Goal reiterated the new contract Hazard has been offered is worth £300,000 per week, which would make him Chelsea's highest earner by some distance. However, Darwin added the 27-year-old "is not close to signing the new deal."
Hazard has another two years remaining on his current contract, adding a lot of pressure for Sarri in his first season at the club. Fail to win silverware, or at least make the Premier League's top four, and it leaves the club in a difficult position to keep their star next summer, when he'll enter the last 12 months of his deal.
Those were the circumstances that led former Chelsea No. 1 Thibaut Courtois to leave for Real as Hazard might have hoped, and the goalkeeper said on Thursday he wants his compatriot to join him in Spain's capital, via ESPN:
Chelsea had hoped to tie Courtois down to a new deal, but the club were forced to sell when he failed to turn up for training earlier this week, per BBC Sport. The Blues signed Kepa Arrizabalaga from Athletic Club Bilbao as his replacement.
La Liga's transfer window doesn't close until August 31 and gives them three weeks to improve the squad, though Chelsea's inability to land a successor has Sarri convinced his talisman won't be leaving.