• Chelsea lost 2-1 to United at Old Trafford on Sunday (25 February).
  • The Blues are now in fifth place on the league table, six points behind the Red Devils.

Thibaut Courtois has questioned Antonio Conte's decision to substitute Eden Hazard in the second-half of Chelsea's 2-1 loss to Manchester United.

The Italian coach decided to withdraw the Belgian, who is arguably the Blues' best player, and bring on Pedro Rodriguez for the final 17 minutes of the game and the goalkeeper feels it was not the right move to make.

"I don't have any explanation concerning Eden's substitution," Courtois told Play Sports. "I didn't expect him to go off, but it was the coach's decision. It would be good for him to explain it because I can't look inside his head."

Hazard has scored 15 goals and provided 11 assists in 38 games in all competitions and is considered a game changer, however Conte thought otherwise and decided to replace him with the Spaniard.

Jesse Lingard scored what would be the the winner four minutes after the Belgian's departure, but Conte justified his decision after the game and made it clear that it was tactical rather than an injury or poor performance from the Belgium international.

"We have to keep the same performance for 90 minutes," Conte said, as quoted by ESPN. "Otherwise, we don't have a great balance. Every single player has to work with the ball, without the ball, otherwise we lose our balance and the game.

"I think he finished his energy. In the first half, he ran a lot. In the second half, he started the same way. But when I see a player is a bit tired, my task is to find a different solution."

However, Courtois was not convinced with the manager's decision as he believes that a player of Hazard's quality should be given the opportunity to play the entire 90 minutes as they can always make a contribution in the final third and change the outcome of the game.

"For me, a player like Eden should play for 90 minutes," Courtois added. "He can always contribute something in the attacking final third."

The Belgian duo are considered key players for Chelsea with the club fighting to ensure they remain at Stamford Bridge for the foreseeable future. They are both holding talks with the club over new deals, but their future remains uncertain with Real Madrid said to be keen to take Courtois and Hazard to the Santiago Bernabeu in the summer.

Eden Hazard
Eden Hazard has scored 15 goals and provided 11 assists in 38 games this season Getty