Thibaut Courtois believes Eden Hazard cannot be replaced at Chelsea and says it is vital he agrees a new contract with the club.
Hazard starred for Chelsea in their 2-2 draw at Arsenal last night, winning and scoring the penalty that levelled the scores at 1-1.
The Belgium international has more than two years left on his deal and Chelsea are confident they will agree an extension when they hold talks later in the season.
Real Madrid continues to be linked with the 26-year-old, but Courtois feels Hazard is not a talent Chelsea can afford to sell. “Losing a player like Eden would be bad for us, the club,” he said.
“Eden is irreplaceable. With the money he will raise, you can buy five players but none of them will be like Eden. It would be like Barcelona losing Lionel Messi or Real Madrid losing Cristiano Ronaldo.
“If you excel, there will always be teams interested in signing the biggest players. But that’s why if Chelsea have ambition to be the best club in the world, these kinds of players have to stay.”
Courtois’ future has also been subject to speculation, with Real Madrid maintaining their interest in the 25-year-old. His deal expires in 2019 but discussions have already taken place over an extension that would double his £100,000-a-week salary.
Courtois has reassured anxious fans that he expects to stay on and suggests Hazard is prepared to do so, too. When asked about whether an announcement over his situation is imminent he added: “It has just turned the new year, so we will wait a few weeks and then sit around the table. I’m happy at Chelsea and a deal is close.
“Has it been a distraction? Not for me. I’m just calm and relaxed because I’m tied to Chelsea. Despite the rumors and everything, I am focused on Chelsea and I’m happy here.
“Do Eden and I encourage each other to sign? Yes. He will say ‘if you sign, I will sign’ and I say the same to him!
“I think we are both happy at Chelsea, we both have a good part to play. We have been champions twice in the four seasons I have been here and can have our peak years together at Chelsea.”
The Blues are 16 points behind leaders Manchester City with as many games left to play.
Chelsea have been significantly outspent by Pep Guardiola’s side in the transfer market and face calls from fans to invest heavily on new talent to ensure they can beat them to the trophy next term.
The defending champions are trying to strengthen in the January window and are looking at Ross Barkley, Thomas Lemar and Alex Sandro.
But Courtois has sympathy for the difficult challenge that Chelsea now face in adding star players to the squad.
He said: “It’s easy to say ‘make big signings’, but the market went nuts. The price being paid for players is too much.
“I understand the point of view of the club. You can’t ignore that. You can’t ask a club to pay so much money that it is maybe too much for a guy. That’s what’s happened in the Premier League now… and everybody smells that.”