Thibaut Courtois has revealed that Chelsea’s players are “hungry” to win the Champions League next season and reiterated head coach Antonio Conte’s assertion that the Blues must strengthen their squad this summer if they are to fulfil their domestic and European ambitions.
A 1-0 win over West Brom at the Hawthorns on Friday confirmed Chelsea as Premier League winners for the second time in three years, as well as ensuring that they will return to Europe’s elite club competition in 2017-18 as top seeds when the group stage draw is made in August.
Courtois is one of several Blues stars who are expected to be the subject of transfer speculation this summer with Real Madrid long-standing admirers, but after the West Brom win the Belgian revealed that bringing the Champions League trophy back to Stamford Bridge next season is a powerful motivation for him and his teammates.
Asked about his future, Courtois replied: “I don’t think now is the moment to speak about that but, of course, I’m committed to Chelsea.
“I think next season there is a new goal of the Champions League. It’s been a few years since Chelsea won it and I missed out on one [triumph with Atletico Madrid in 2014] in the last minute, so I think a lot of players are hungry for winning that as well.
“Obviously you need additions because you play on four different fronts, so I think that’s important, but I guess the club and the manager know what they’re doing.
“We already have a lot of quality, but maybe sometimes you need a bit more depth because this year we didn’t have injuries and you never know what can happen next year. So obviously I guess they will do their work now and hopefully we can finish the season with an FA Cup win as well.”
Chelsea’s surge back to the top of the Premier League has been spectacular after the most disappointing campaign of the Roman Abramovich era in 2015-16, and Courtois believes some of the criticism directed at the Blues underestimated the levels of quality and resilience in the squad.
“It’s amazing, especially after last year, to bounce back in this way, to be champions, having been top for a long time,” the Belgian admitted. “Obviously, last year we had a lot of critics, a lot of laughter at us. We had a moment when we were 15th, 16th in the league. People laugh and people get criticised — it’s not nice after a season when you won the league.
“Some criticisms were deserved and others not — and if you bounce back winning the title again, that’s amazing. They said we didn’t want to play anymore, they said we were lazy, that kind of stuff, and it’s not true. We tried to win our games, but last year was just an off year, especially for a team like Chelsea and the players that were here.
“Everybody is used to playing for trophies and last year that was not the case and everybody’s pride was hurt. I think that is why we wanted to bounce back this season. After the Arsenal game [in September] when we lost 3-0 we were in a bad moment again, but we bounced back. And we had an amazing six, seven months. We’re very proud about that.”