Antonio Conte has warned Chelsea to hand new contracts to Eden Hazard and Thibaut Courtois before the World Cup makes them even bigger targets.
Chelsea’s Belgian duo will present England with their greatest danger at the World Cup next summer but, by the time the tournament comes round, Courtois will have only one year left on his contract, Hazard two – and they will be ripe for picking by the world’s biggest clubs if they shine in Russia.
Talks on new deals for the pair have been mooted for some time but, after watching Hazard tear Newcastle apart with two goals at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, Conte wants things sorted out as soon as possible.
Hazard has now scored eight goals in his last 10 games and Conte said: “Yes, I want them to sign new deals. You are talking about two great players.
“Thibaut is one of the best goalkeepers in the world. Maybe the best. And then there is Eden. The club knows the importance of these two players and they are happy to play for this club.
“I will be very happy when they can have this deal. These two are great players because they have a lot of space for improvement. They are very young and it will be great to keep them with us.
“The World Cup is the best tournament in the world. You can show your skills and show that you are a top player.”
But Conte went to add his belief that Hazard has much room for improvement. “I don’t think that Eden is at the peak of his career,” said the Chelsea manager.
“He has a lot of improvement to make. He is young and it is important for him to work, work, work to improve himself.
“You are at the top when you win the Ballon d’Or the first time, when you win the Champions League, when you win the Word Cup.
“At that moment you are at the top of the world – a great player.”