Conte backs Courtois to become Chelsea's Buffon

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Antonio Conte feels Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois can emulate the success enjoyed by Juventus and Italy great Gianluigi Buffon.

Courtois is reportedly the subject of interest from Real Madrid, prompting his manager to emphasise the long-term importance of the Belgium international to the Premier League leaders.

The Italian has extensive experience of working with one of the best shot-stoppers in world football, having played with Buffon at Juve before coaching the veteran at both club and international level.

Still only 24, Courtois can be expected to perform at the highest level for at least a decade, with Buffon still earning rave reviews at the age of 38. 

"I hope for Thibaut to repeat the same career as Gigi Buffon," Conte said.

"I think that Buffon is one of the best goalkeepers of all time. I worked with him at Juventus as a team-mate and then as his coach, in the national team also.

"I think Buffon is a legend for football and I hope Thibaut has the same career as Gigi.

"He has great potential to continue to do great things, to reach great targets."

Of the rumoured interest from Madrid, Conte added: "Look, Thibaut is a Chelsea player and I want him to stay here. I think he's very happy. I see him with this club for many years. I want this, the club wants this. I don't see any problem.

"A contract is a club decision. But, in my opinion, yes, I think that a goalkeeper like Thibaut deserves to stay at Chelsea for many years and become a type of player to stay and write the story of this club, to become a legend at this club."