Belfast Telegraph

Hazard and Willian fully behind Chelsea cause, insists Sarri

By Matt McGeehan

Maurizio Sarri expects Chelsea to keep Eden Hazard and Willian despite the transfer window remaining open in continental Europe.

Hazard has been linked with Real Madrid and Willian with Barcelona this summer.

Sarri, speaking ahead of today's Premier League opener at Huddersfield, said: "I think it's impossible. Here the market is closed, so we cannot change important players now. It's impossible."

Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois left Chelsea for Real Madrid this week, urging his Belgium team-mate Hazard to join him in future.

"Hazard is with us," Sarri said.

"I think definitely. It's not a problem. I have spoken with him three, four times, for everything. He never said something about the market. I think he's very happy to stay here."

Hazard's contract runs until June 2020 and he has been mulling over the offer of an extension for some time. Sarri believes Hazard will commit to the club.

Sarri added: "I don't want to discuss about contracts. It's not my job. My job is on the pitch. My job is to improve the players. My job is to try to win matches.

"It's not to sign new contracts. I have seen a player very happy to stay here. So I think it will not be a problem, the new contract."

Sarri suggested there will be departures before the end of the month, and one was announced before the day was done, with striker Michy Batshuayi joining Valencia on a season-long loan.

The 24-year-old spent the second half of last season on loan at Borussia Dortmund.

"Now I think the squad is too large. So I think some players have to go on loan. I don't know who at the moment. I prefer to have 23 or 24 players and three or four very young players. No more," Sarri said.

Sarri refused to criticise Courtois for his failure to attend Chelsea training, kissing the Real badge at his unveiling and encouraging Hazard to move.

Mateo Kovacic moved from Real to Chelsea on a season-long loan and Kepa Arrizabalaga has succeeded Courtois as Chelsea's number one, becoming the world's most expensive goalkeeper in a £72.1million deal from Athletic Bilbao.

"I'm very happy for both," Sarri added. "The Courtois situation was clear. He wanted to go to Madrid, so we lost maybe one of the most important goalkeepers in the world now.

"We bought a young goalkeeper, I think one of the most important amongst the young goalkeepers in Europe. I'm really happy.

"I'm really happy with Kovacic. He has the characteristics for us. I'm really very happy and I think now the squad is complete."

Premier League fixtures: Today (3pm unless stated): Newcastle United v Tottenham (12.30), Bournemouth v Cardiff City, Fulham v Crystal Palace, Huddersfield Town v Chelsea, Watford v Brighton, Wolves v Everton (5.30).

Tomorrow: Liverpool v West Ham (1.30), Southampton v Burnley (1.30), Arsenal v Manchester City (4pm).

Belfast Telegraph

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