Eden Hazard's father claims his son has rejected a contract extension at Chelsea to enable a transfer to Real Madrid.
After a stellar run last season, ending with his team taking the league title, Hazard's has been linked with a move to the Bernabeu, though the 26-year-old's current contract runs until 2020.
Hazard's father, Thierry, was quoted by Belgian newspaper Le Soir, as saying: "What I can reveal about Eden is that he refused a contract extension.
"This was so that, if necessary, he could follow the interest of Real, whom he could see himself playing for."
However, he added that at present, no approach had been made by the La Liga team.
He said: "As of right now, there is no contract from Real Madrid - Eden is only one of the parties involved in his future."
The comments will no doubt stoke further speculation as to the Belgium international's future, having previously admitted his respect for Real Madrid, in what was seen as a "come get me" plea.
Hazard said in November: "Everyone knows the admiration I have for Real Madrid."
Currently 15 points adrift of table-toppers Manchester City, Chelsea face Stoke City on Saturday.
Antonio Conte refused to discuss Eden Hazard's future despite claims from his father that he has rejected a new contract at Chelsea.
Hazard's father Thierry has told Belgian newspaper Le Soir that the offer of a new deal was turned down because of "interest" from Real Madrid.
Chelsea insist no new contract offer has been made, because his current deal still has two-and-a-half years to run.
Asked about Hazard senior's comments, Conte said: "This is a private conversation - between the club and the player, and the agent of the player.
"I'm proud to have him in my team, in my squad, and I'm very happy to work with him. He's a really good guy and has a lot of space for improvement, to become one of the best players in the world. But, I repeat, on this issue: this must be a private conversation between the player, the player's agent and the club."
The future of fellow Belgium international Thibaut Courtois also remains the subject of speculation, and Conte added: "Courtois has a contract, also for next season, with the club. With Chelsea. We are talking about one of the best goalkeepers in the world.
"Me and my staff are proud to have him as goalkeeper. For sure, I hope to have all the players for the next season.
"This is the type of conversation for the agent to have with the club. If you ask me if I hope Courtois stays? Yes, for sure. We are talking about a fantastic goalkeeper, a really good guy, and I'm happy to work with him."
"I don't know about this issue [surrounding Courtois' family living in Spain]. For sure, when you are in a great club and you trust in the project, you want to stay. You want to continue to play for this team. The family is not a problem. But I repeat, this is a private conversation between the player, his agent and the club. My only hope is that I continue to train him because I'm very happy with his commitment, his behaviour.
"You are talking about two important players for us. Yes, for sure, it will be very important to continue with this type of player, especially if your ambition is to try and compete for something important. It's very important to try to improve your team, to strengthen your team, and not to sell the best players."
The coming summer is set to be a landmark one for Eden Hazard – and one in which his future career path is decided, writes Dan Levene.
If there were small signs of irritation at the outrageous Panenka the Belgian dinked into the net against Newcastle United, then Antonio Conte was doing his best to keep them hidden.
“The important thing for me is to score, and it happened, and I am happy for this,” said the Chelsea boss.
But Hazard's softly-struck trickery might have been seen by some as a risk; and Conte doesn't like players taking risks.
Of course it is likely the man in the number 10 shirt saw it as no risk at all: so full of confidence is he at the moment, and so sure is he of his own ability as a player.
Hazard is almost certainly the most gifted player ever to pull on the Chelsea shirt. Those who watched Gianfranco Zola may have been simply stunned at what he could pull out of the bag from time to time; Hazard manages to provoke that sort of incredulity almost every week right now.
It is a little over five years since Chelsea signed one of Europe's hottest properties. And, almost every summer since, the speculation has been about when he would move on to Real Madrid, or Paris Saint-Germain.
Hazard was one of the earliest examples of Chelsea's relatively recent shift in transfer policy: towards young talent that can be developed, and which will return a healthy profit on re-sale. And, though sometimes accused of a lack of consistency, Hazard has more than delivered on the first part of that deal: notably in the Blues' title-winning 2014-15 season, when he was named both PFA and Football Writers player of the year.
Turning 27 in January, he has reached that stage in his career where greatness is often defined: his powers are at their greatest, and the law of averages says he should enjoy a purple patch, before his athleticism starts to decline around the age of 30. But 27 is also a significant time in any player's career: the point where thoughts turn to playing legacy; where that final move might be considered.
This will also be, lest we forget, a World Cup summer: and Hazard could not be placed any more centrally in the shop window than when playing for his national side against England; for a side under pressure to show delivery from its golden generation.
At his club, Conte is doing much to help Haard towards greatness, whether it be in the longer term with Chelsea, or to up his price for a summer move. The deployment of him as a second striker, alongside Alvaro Morata, has brought the superlatives tumbling-in this last month. In case you were unaware of a player in his prime right now, the way he has excelled in his more central role has made it entirely impossible to miss.
With two and a half years left on his contract, we are at the point in the cycle where a club must decide whether to stick or twist. Run the contract down under two years and a player's sell-on value starts to diminish. The choice in the summer will be to announce either a new deal, or a new club.
Conte's only concern is to get the best out of his side, and to secure results. But his management of Hazard is, of course, a double-edged sword: help him soar, and he will be happy; but the higher he goes, the clearer his outline will be to those clubs that might covet his ability.
So will Hazard decide this summer to effectively pledge his career to Chelsea? Or will he move on to a bigger pay day, in a league where he will have far more space to deliver? That largely depends on the size of the bidding: as last summer showed, even the world's biggest sides are forced to become selling clubs at a certain point.
But, for Hazard, it won't be just about money. It will be about where he can most enjoy his football, and where his family can be most comfortable. Conte is working very hard right now trying to ensure that, in both cases, the answer is 'Chelsea'.
Eden Hazard has said it would be a "dream" to work under Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane amid rumours of discontent at Chelsea.
The Chelsea midfielder, who helped inspire the club's league title last season, has been linked to the La Liga giants in recent months.
Speaking to Belgian TV channel RTL while on international duty this week, Hazard said: "Everyone knows the respect I have for Zidane as a player, but also as a manager. He was my idol."
Though the 26-year-old insisted he was committed to Chelsea, he added: "I do not know what will happen in my career in the future. However, for sure, to play under Zidane would be a dream."
The comments could be seen as a bold "come get me" gesture, as persistent rumours of trouble at Stamford Bridge continue to circulate.
With manager Antonio Conte appearing to voice frustration about the club's slow transfer window last summer, technical director Michael Emenalo parted company with Chelsea this week in a move that could have been interpreted as a gesture of solidarity with the Italian, by the board.
Chelsea are nine points adrift of table leaders Manchester City, and next face West Brom after the international break.
Atletico Madrid full-back Filipe Luis says his new team-mate, Diego Costa, is a better player than Neymar and Eden Hazard.
Costa returned to his former club in September after a three-year spell at Stamford Bridge, where he helped fire the Blues to two Premier League titles.
The Spanish forward is unable to play for Atleti until January due to the club’s transfer ban, but he has been training with his new team-mates since he arrived back in the country’s capital.
And Luis has revealed that he is glad to have him back – with the pair having won La Liga during the 2013-14 season.
“[Costa] is the best I have played with,” Luis told El Mundo.
“I have seen [Juan Carlos] Valeron do things nobody could do. Neymar and [Eden] Hazard are amazing talents, but the player who gave me most trophies was Diego Costa.
“He always scores the opening goal. Because it is one thing to score 30 goals with hat-tricks in easy wins, and another that 20 of those 30 goals are enough to win 1-0. Nobody does that as well as Diego Costa.”
Luis, who also spent a year at Chelsea before returning to Spain, has backed Antoine Griezmann to stay at the club amid speculation he could join Manchester United.
“Often players talk when they feel they are not being valued as they deserve. Then they get more attention.
“He would have had many offers from many teams. A player of his size wants to be up with the biggest in terms of contract and value. And that is fair - as Griezmann is doing great here.
“In the end, for all the talk about other clubs, he always wanted to stay here and he is still here, happy and liking it.
“For sure, he can stay much longer. We hope the fans understand this and everything gets back to normal, although he has been scoring goals, and goals cure everything.”
ON THE SAME TOPIC
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has welcomed the return of Eden Hazard from injury during their Premier League win over Leicester City on Saturday but said the Belgian playmaker needs time to get back to 100 percent.
Hazard, who recovered from an ankle fracture sustained in June, played for the final 12 minutes as Chelsea ground out a 2-1 win with goals from striker Alvaro Morata and midfielder N'Golo Kante to go third in the table.
"This is good news for us," Conte told the club's website (www.chelseafc.com). "For sure he needs time to be 100 percent but for us his recovery is very important."
Chelsea are back in Champions League action on Tuesday, where they face Azerbaijan's Qarabag at Stamford Bridge and Conte said he would be patient with Hazard.
"We all know very well the importance of this player for us," the Italian manager said.
"Now we must have patience to give him the possibility to improve his form, but I am pleased for him because after a bad injury it's great to see him with us."
Chelsea must continue to work on integrating new signings into the squad after winning three games in a row since their opening day defeat, Conte said.
"We must be satisfied... now we are trying to involve new players with the older players and this is a process. We need time. In football there is not a lot of time but we are working hard," Conte said.
Apart from striker Morata, the club's record signing from Real Madrid, new boys Antonio Rudiger, Davide Zappacosta and Tiemoue Bakayoko also featured against the Foxes.
"I think Baka is improving his physical condition. Also, he is starting to understand and adapt to our style of football," Conte added.
"He has to improve with the ball because without the ball he is very strong. He is a young player and has good signs for us."
Chelsea have said Eden Hazard's ankle surgery was a success and expect the midfielder to return to training in three months meaning he will almost certainly miss the start of the Premier League season on August 12.
Belgium midfielder Hazard sustained a fracture in his right ankle training, and will miss this week's international matches.
"Eden Hazard successfully underwent surgery today after sustaining a fracture to his right ankle while training with the Belgian national team. He is expected to return to training in approximately three months," said the Premier League champions in a statement.
Hazard, who scored 16 goals and provided five assists to help Chelsea win the Premier League, is ruled out of his country's friendly against Czech Republic on Monday and a World Cup qualifier against Estonia on June 9.
"Eden Hazard will miss both games with Belgium this week due to an ankle injury which he suffered during this afternoon's training session," Belgium team media officer Stefan Van Loock said in a statement.
"Medical imaging showed that the injury... is an ankle fracture (right ankle)," he added without giving a timeline for the 26-year-old's recovery.
Belgium have won four of five 2018 World Cup qualifying matches to lead Group H on 13 points, two points ahead of second-placed Greece.
Eden Hazard believes Chelsea can lay down the challenge to their rivals for next season by completing a Premier League and FA Cup double on Saturday.
Antonio Conte will be seeking a double in his first season as head coach when the Premier League winners face Arsenal in the FA Cup final at Wembley.
A six-way battle for the Premier League was anticipated this season but did not materialise as resurgent Chelsea dominated, winning by seven points from Tottenham. Chelsea's rivals will be eager to overtake them next season.
Arsenal won six of their final seven Premier League games since beating Manchester City to advance to the final. But the Gunners missed out on the top four and have a host of injury concerns ahead of the Wembley clash.
Hazard hopes Chelsea will be ruthless and send a message that the Blues are the team to beat next season, with a new generation ready to rival Chelsea's serial winners of old.
"It's always important against Arsenal," Hazard said.
"We just want to win games, we know that every year they have some injuries in Arsenal. Even for the next season, I think Saturday is a good opportunity to put pressure on them and to all the opponents also.
"The last 10 years in Chelsea it was great. (But) Lampard is finished, Didier Drogba is finished, Ashley Cole, John Terry now. They won a lot of trophies, now it's like a new generation.
"We want to prove that the club is one of the best in the world. So we have to be ready for that. We have this new manager, we have a couple of young players, so everything is ready to build something."
Hazard joined Chelsea in 2012, after the Champions League triumph.
The 26-year-old has won two Premier League titles, the League Cup and Europa League during his five years at Stamford Bridge.
He is pleased with his silverware haul, but is keen to win with the same regularity as Terry, who would claim a 16th and final major trophy of his Chelsea career with victory at Wembley.
"It's not bad - but it can be better," Hazard said.
"I didn't win a lot - I won a couple of titles, but him? Everything. I hope to have the same opportunities. The FA Cup and Champions League, why not?"
It was a 3-0 loss at Arsenal which served as a spur for Chelsea's season, with Conte reacting by introducing the 3-4-3 formation which has served them so well.
And Hazard scored one of the goals of the season with a solo run in Chelsea's 3-1 win at Stamford Bridge in February.
Arsene Wenger may have looked on ruefully. He has previously said he wanted to sign Hazard, who instead moved from Lille to Chelsea for £32million five years ago.
"They were talking a little bit, but not with me personally," Hazard added.
Hazard was compared to Barcelona's Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo for his scintillating showings in Chelsea's 2014-15 title triumph before a drop in form as the Blues finished 10th last term.
Chelsea, and Hazard, have been rejuvenated under Conte, but the Belgian is not concerned over his place in the global pecking order.
"This is football, sometimes you are at the top and sometimes not," Hazard added.
"People are always talking, I don't care about that. I try to be the best I can. I don't know if I am top five, top 10, top 20. It's not my target. I just want to enjoy my football."
Hazard, the Belgium captain, is confident Chelsea can fill the leadership void created by Terry's imminent departure after 22 years at Stamford Bridge.
Terry made his 717th appearance and last Stamford Bridge outing as a Chelsea player in last Sunday's win over Sunderland, and at Wembley he could turn out for a 718th time. He is likely to be a substitute.
Gary Cahill, Cesar Azpilicueta, David Luiz, Cesc Fabregas and Hazard all lead in different ways.
"Some of the guys are ready to take this opportunity," Hazard added.
"We have a couple of leaders - I try to be one on the pitch. We have a lot of guys who can do that."
The Blues forward missed out on the PFA Player of the Year award to N'Golo Kante, but is considered to be capable of becoming the world's best
Cesc Fabregas has urged Chelsea colleague Eden Hazard to be more selfish and close the gap on the world’s best player, Barcelona’s Lionel Messi.
The Belgium international has been a talismanic figure for the Blues again this season, with his introduction off the bench in Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final clash with Tottenham helping to turn the tide in that tie.
His efforts have not been enough to land him another PFA Player of the Year award, with that prize going to club team-mate N’Golo Kante, but Hazard is considered to be among the global elite once more.
Fabregas certainly has him in that bracket, with a man who has played alongside some of the finest talent on the planet of the opinion that the 26-year-old forward can get even better.
“Ability wise, there is only one player above Eden, and we all know who that is: Messi. Eden is up there with the best,” Fabregas said after witnessing Wembley heroics.
“But I’ve told him many times, he needs to be selfish and have that killer instinct – then he will be whatever he wants to be.
“Eden is pushing to that level, and we have to help him. Sometimes when it’s two against two and he passes, I tell him ‘Score yourself. Do it’. He has to do it more often, be more selfish, as all the top players are. Then he will be unstoppable.
“You never want to accept being on the bench. Whoever you are. But it can happen.
“For us (Tuesday’s) game against Southampton is very important, and maybe that had something to do with it. It worked really well. At 2-2 you put them on with half an hour to go, they change the game and you win.”
Chelsea’s 4-2 victory over Spurs came on the back of a testing defeat to Manchester United which has opened the door to the their closest rivals in the Premier League title race.
Having seen the Blues offer a perfect response to that setback, Fabregas has taken the opportunity to hail the collective spirit within the Stamford Bridge camp.
He added: “One of the positive things about this season is that every time we had a defeat or a draw, we bounced back quickly.
“When we scored the first goal everyone on the bench was celebrating. The togetherness we had, people coming on with no ‘Oh, I was on the bench’ attitude, coming on to make a difference. We’re full of winners.”
Belgium's Eden Hazard has not recovered from a calf injury in time for Saturday's World Cup qualifier with Greece in Brussels, coach Roberto Martinez has revealed.
Hazard missed Chelsea's 2-1 Premier League victory at Stoke City on Saturday with the calf problem he picked up in training.
Martinez said the injury was not serious but Hazard was also very likely to miss Belgium's friendly with Russia on Tuesday.
"Eden has suffered an injury before the match against Stoke, it does not look so serious," he said.
"But he will not play against Greece. We are going to follow the injury.
" It is a big disappointment for Eden that he cannot lead the team. If you want to be a good team, you have to absorb everything."
"This is a good test for us. I see enough players who can take over his role."
Midfielder Marouane Fellaini and right back Thomas Meunier also missed Belgium's first training session on Monday.
Fellaini was given a rest after playing for Manchester United on Sunday. Martinez said Paris Saint-Germain's Meunier had an ankle problem and could not train for a few days.
Belgium are top of World Cup qualifying Group H having won all four of their matches so far while Greece are the only other undefeated team in the section after three wins and a draw.