Conte urges Chelsea hierarchy to secure Courtois future

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Chelsea boss Antonio Conte has urged the club’s hierarchy to secure goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois’s future at Stamford Bridge as soon as possible and ward off potential suitors.

Defending European champions Real Madrid have been heavily linked with a move for the 25-year-old, who Conte rates as one of the world’s best keepers, although progress on a new deal has stalled.

Courtois’s existing Chelsea deal runs until 2019 and Conte, whose side host Premier League strugglers Swansea on Wednesday, hopes the Belgium No1 can be tied down to a long-term contract.

“Thibaut is one of the best players, one of the best goalkeepers in the world. Maybe he’s the best,” said Conte. “For sure, he can become the best goalkeeper in the world. He has great potential.

“He’s very young but shows great maturity in every game and is a really fantastic player. For this reason I hope he finds an agreement with the club. But it’s the club’s responsibility. I repeat, this is the club’s responsibility.”

Conte, meanwhile, has defended midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko amid criticism of his performance against Liverpool on Saturday. The Italian added: “Don’t forget Bakayoko is a very young player. He’s only 22 years old.”

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