Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois has thrown fresh doubt on his future at Stamford Bridge by publicly criticising manager Antonio Conte following the decision to substitute Eden Hazard early during the weekend's loss against Manchester United.
With the score at 1-1 and the reigning champions desperately needing a victory, Conte withdrew Hazard with 20 minutes left. Moments later, Jesse Lingard scored the winner for United.
Courtois was less than pleased to see his fellow countryman and Chelsea's usual difference maker hauled off at such a crucial time, making his feelings known through the Belgian media.
"I have no explanation for the sub of Hazard," Courtois reportedly told broadcaster Play Sports.
"I had not expected him to take him off but it is a choice of the manager. He must explain. I can't look into his head. Players like Eden should have 90 minutes on the pitch. He can always bring something extra offensive."
Courtois, a known target for Real Madrid, is due to be out of contract at the end of next season, but it was reported earlier this week that renewal talks have been put on hold.
Real are also believed to hold interest in Hazard, the 2015 PFA Players' Player of the Year. It remains to be seen how he felt about being brought off early when his team needed a spark.
Hazard and Courtois are close friends and it was previously revealed by the latter last month that they are encouraging each to sign new deals with Chelsea in some kind of 'contract pact'.
"He will say 'if you sign, I will sign' and I say the same to him!" the giant stopper explained.
It could yet have the opposite effect, though, meaning that if one refuses, the other might follow.