Thibaut Courtois sends message to next Chelsea owner and makes Eden Hazard transfer admission

Thibaut Courtois sends message to next Chelsea owner and makes Eden Hazard transfer admission

Former Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois hopes the club can remain one of the most successful in Europe under their next owner and believes Blues legend and Real Madrid teammate Eden Hazard can still come good at the Bernabeu despite his persistent injury issues.

Courtois spent seven years as a Chelsea player between 2011 and 2018 and for five of those he was the club’s No.1 goalkeeper. Alongside Hazard, he twice won the Premier League at Stamford Bridge and also lifted the FA Cup and League Cup before departing for the Spanish capital in acrimonious fashion.

In the four years since, Chelsea have lifted the UEFA Europa League, UEFA Champions League, UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup. They have certainly not struggled to claim silverware in Courtois’ absence. Yet the long-term future of the club has been plunged into uncertainty over the past six weeks following Russia’s horrific invasion of Ukraine.

That resulted in owner Roman Abramovich opting to put Chelsea up for sale and the Russian was then hit with sanctions by both the UK government and the EU. Those have impacted the Blues, who are currently operating under a special licence and require a quick sale to one of four shortlisted bidders – LA Dodgers part-owner Todd Boehly and British business leader Jonathan Goldstein, Sir Martin Broughton and Lord Sebastian Coe, Chicago Cubs owners the Ricketts family, and Boston Celtics co-owner Stephen Pagliuca.

It’s understood second and final bids will have to be submitted to US merchant bank The Raine Group at the end of next week. One will then be selected and the takeover could possibly be completed by the end of the month, although that timeframe feels somewhat optimistic.

“I think it’s been a hard month for the club and the fans and players,” Courtois said ahead of Chelsea’s Champions League quarter-final first leg against Real Madrid, for whom the Belgian will start in goal. “But you can see that all the people that love Chelsea are putting all their energy together so that the new owners know the club they are buying, with the fans and to keep that blue spirit. For me also, I was part of Chelsea for seven years in total. That is a big part.

“They gave me the chance to be loaned to Atletico. The chance to grow myself and come back, be with Petr Cech and learn from him, then win two Premier Leagues. So I am always happy to come back here and I hope the new owners understand what club they are buying and that Chelsea can keep being one of the best [clubs] in the world.”

Courtois returns to Stamford Bridge for the second time in two seasons. However, this time around there will be supporters inside the stadium and he is not expected to be given a warm reception by the Chelsea faithful. It would have been very different for Hazard had he been fit for the game.

The Belgian winger dazzled supporters on a weekly basis and left Chelsea in the summer of 2019 as a club legend – there were very few who begrudged him the opportunity to live out his childhood dream and play for Real Madrid. However, that dream has turned sour due to injuries and Hazard has made only 65 appearances across three seasons for Los Blancos and scored only six goals.

Yet Courtois believes his Real Madrid and Belgium teammate can still rediscover his best and make a telling impact the Bernabeu if given the opportunity. “Eden Hazard is a very useful player for us,” the goalkeeper said. “The class and talent he has are things you don’t forget. He has been very unlucky and he is in a better place to give his opinion than me but I think he is doing well and recovering.

“The most important thing for him is to recover and finish the season strongly. I hope he can be involved for Real Madrid [next season] and then be involved in the World Cup [with Belgium]. He would have loved too to have been here. He was here for six or seven years; it’s a special game for him and it’s a shame he couldn’t be here.

“I’m sure Eden can contribute a lot to Real Madrid – he has done that for us many times. We have seen his quality on the pitch this season but he has also been very unlucky. Vinicius Jnr has done well in his position but I am still confident in Eden.”

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