LONDON -- Chelsea head coach Antonio Conte has dismissed reports linking Thibaut Courtois with a move to Real Madrid and reiterated his belief that the Belgian is one of the best goalkeepers in the world.
Last week Marca reported that Courtois has told friends and family of his prospective move back to the Spanish capital next summer, despite the 24-year-old telling the London Evening Standard earlier this month that he is fully focused on winning trophies at Chelsea.
Courtois has made no secret of his desire to return to Spain one day, having spent three trophy-laden years on loan at Atletico Madrid, but Chelsea are reportedly preparing to offer him a lucrative new contract to secure his future and Conte insists he values his goalkeeper as highly as ever.
"I think it's not important to clarify the situation," Conte said when asked about Courtois' future. "Thibaut is, for me, one of the best -- if not the best -- goalkeepers in the world. He's working really well. He's a fantastic goalkeeper. He stays with us and this is the most important thing. The other things are only speculation.
"I think in this season he's playing very well, and you can see that he's not only very good with his hands but also with his feet. He's a complete goalkeeper, a modern goalkeeper.
"For me, now, he's one of the best in the world if not... I don't want to tell you he's the best because he's my player, but I think he's a fantastic goalkeeper, the top."
Chelsea are more likely to be buyers than sellers in January and have significant money to spend after sanctioning the £60 million departure of Oscar to Shanghai SIPG last week, but Conte is particularly wary of the winter window.
"In January, it's always very difficult to buy because I think that every team tries to keep their best players, and don't want to sell," he said. "But, with the club, we are thinking about the best way to face the rest of the season.
"For sure, we are seeing our situation with our squad. Then we'll take the best decisions. But, as I said before, it's not easy this window in January."
Asked if he is worried that any new faces could disrupt the growing chemistry of his squad, Conte added: "No, I don't think about this. When you have a good group and a new player can be added to go into the group, it's very easy in a simple way.
"For sure, we sold Oscar and we have money to spend. But it's important to spend money in the right way. To spend for spending's sake, I don't like this.
"I prefer to buy players, adapt our system, people who can come into our team and pass. It's not easy in January in this window to find these types of players. But, with the club, we are working on these aspects."