Chelsea will have a decision to make on one of their hot prospects sooner than they’d have imagined as Atletico Madrid are so impressed with the development of Thibaut Courtois that they would like to offer him a long term deal and I wouldn’t put it past Barcelona to register their interest as they seek a replacement for Victor Valdes.
The 20-year-old was a little known prospect when the Blues signed him from Genk 18 months ago and during his loan spell at Atletico his stock has risen rapidly and he’s even become a cult figure as fans have paid tribute to his acrobatics saves by ‘Thibauting’, to emulate one of his goalkeeping saves in a random location. The La Liga club’s desire to make him a permanent acquisition has made Chelsea officials ‘anxious’ according to reports in the Daily Mail and goalkeeping coach Christophe Lollichon was in Madrid to monitor the keeper and discuss his future.
There’s not much chance of seeing Courtois return to Stamford Bridge as an Petr Cech’s understudy but the club have made it clear to the 20-year-old that they see him as the long term successor to the Czech footballer of the year and to bring in a new number 2 once Courtois eventually takes his place between the sticks at Stamford Bridge.
Courtois signed a five-year deal when he first signed with Chelsea but there are talks over an improved deal as he was a relative unknown back then and the deal was on modest terms. It would be ideal if the Belgian committed his future to Chelsea whilst extending his stay at the Vicente Calderon but things could become complicated and somewhere down the line the club will have to make the choice between the two goalkeepers on their books.
Thierry Courtois, his father, confirmed the delicate balance of the situation:
“It is very rare to see any team with two top international keepers on their books but that is the case with Chelsea.
“They have two world-class keepers, and it is probably fair to say Thibaut has developed into a No 1 more quickly than anyone could have expected. He is a great keeper for Spanish football, because he has adapted to the style of play over there and has the height to command his area.”
I don’t see Atletico posing much of a threat in terms of their budget as they haven’t the financial clout to prise him away from Chelsea forcefully and they have already dismissed claims that Courtois could be used as part of a deal which would see Radamel Falcao move to Stamford Bridge, but it’s the interest his performances would have attracted from other clubs that would concern me, although part of me would like to see Barcelona make an approach and us telling them where to stick it.