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Friday 19 October 2018

Willian stays put at Blues but duo a doubt

TARGET: Willian insists he is staying at Stamford Bridge. Photo: REUTERS
TARGET: Willian insists he is staying at Stamford Bridge. Photo: REUTERS

Willian has pledged his commitment to Chelsea as the futures of Thibaut Courtois and Eden Hazard remain in doubt.

Brazil playmaker Willian has been linked with summer moves to Manchester United, Real Madrid and Barcelona, who, he says, made an official offer to sign him.

However, the 29-year-old says his five-year spell at Stamford Bridge is set to continue.

"I'm a Chelsea player," Willian told ESPN Brasil.

"I always made it clear that what I wanted was to stay in the club. The only club I knew that really made an official offer for me was Barcelona.

"But I have my head here and I intend to continue in the club unless the club wants to sell me. But my head is here in the club."

The futures of Courtois and Hazard are more uncertain.

Courtois has a year remaining on his contract and has been repeatedly linked with a move to Real Madrid. Chelsea risk losing him for a reduced fee in January or for free next summer.

Hazard, whose deal expires in 2020, has stalled over a new contract offer and has long been the subject of speculation over a move to Real.

Head coach Maurizio Sarri, following the Community Shield loss to Manchester City at Wembley on Sunday, said he would sanction Courtois' departure if the goalkeeper expresses a desire to leave. Courtois reportedly stated his wish to the Italian yesterday.

The transfer window for incoming players closes this Thursday, so time is against Chelsea if they are to recruit any would-be replacements.

Quality

David Luiz has urged Courtois and Hazard to stay, while insisting the Blues have enough quality even if the pair leave.

"Chelsea wants for the best players to stay," Luiz said.

"They know Chelsea a lot, so they know what they've had here, the fun they've had here. Everybody loves them and I hope they can stay. If they decide to leave, I think we will continue with fantastic players."

Luiz knows what life is like away from Chelsea, having spent two seasons at Paris Saint Germain before returning to Stamford Bridge in August 2016.

He played a crucial role in Chelsea's title triumph in Antonio Conte's first season before injury and a rumoured fallout saw him sidelined.

However, he insists he never contemplated leaving Chelsea for a second time and is now keen to show he can be a key figure for Sarri.

"I was just working and trying to do my best," Luiz added.

"Everybody has the opportunity, you just have to show him character, physical quality, technical quality."

Sarri has torn up Conte's three-man defence, replacing it with a back four, in the three weeks since his appointment.

The 59-year-old Italian's style has been likened to Pep Guardiola's, but while Man City afforded the Catalan time to adjust in his first season in England, there is precious little leeway for Sarri.

"I hope we can understand it quickly and can fight for all the titles," Luiz added.

"When you play for a big club you have to be ready to try to fight for the titles, and we're going to fight for that."

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