Chelsea keeper Thibaut Courtois has informed his teammates and friends he is set to join Real Madrid in the summer.
Earlier it was reported in Onda Cero by Spanish journalist Jose Ramon De la Morena that Real Madrid were ‘in negotiations’ with Chelsea shot stopper Thibaut Courtois for a possible summer switch, after their transfer ban had been shortened to only one transfer window.
Now according to Spanish publication MARCA, the 24-year-old has told his teammates and close friends that he will leave Chelsea at the end of the current campaign and come next season, he will be plying his trade at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu under Zinedine Zidane.
The report states that his Chelsea teammates are trying to convince him to stay at Stamford Bridge and according to that this move could be ‘further complicated’, by Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich. The Oligarch doesn’t want to let go of the Belgian international – who he rates highly – and is well aware of his importance to Chelsea’s form this season.
The report further states that even though current first choice keeper Keylor Navas is still held in high regard by the technical staff, they still feel that another world class keeper is needed at the club. Courtois would also serve as a long term replacement for the 30-year-old Costa Rican, especially given that he was never their first choice replacement for Iker Casillas.
Courtois has previously stated his desire to Spain, having spent 3 seasons there in the Capital with Atletico Madrid, making over 150 appearances for Los Rojiblancos, helping them to 4 trophies and also a Champions League final. In an interview in September, he said: “When I left Spain, I knew that I would return one day,” he said. “I have a contract with Chelsea for the next three seasons. In 2018, when I’m in the last year of my contract, I’ll evaluate whether it makes more sense to stay or to go.”
However, last month he rubbished rumours linking him to Real Madrid, saying that he was happy at Chelsea and he never had any contact with the European Champions. However, he remained coy on a possible return to former club Atletico, stating: “These are rumours that come out from people who do not know anything. Perhaps one day I can return – who knows? But right now I’m very happy at Chelsea.”
Chelsea had to let long serving club legend Petr Cech leave to Arsenal, in order to accommodate Courtois in the team, something that the Blues’ faithful would have found difficult. His comments about not wishing to retire at Stamford Bridge earlier this season may have incurred the ire of some of the Chelsea fans, but no one can doubt his importance to the club’s form this term. He has been in superb form this term, and currently has the most number of clean sheets in Europe’s top 5 leagues so far.
Courtois’ current contract runs until the summer of 2018, but it is unlikely that the Blues will let him go in the summer without finding an adequate replacement. At only 24, Courtois has long career ahead of him and Conte and Chelsea will be wary of how difficult it is to find a shot stopper of his age and ability in the current market. However, the massive transfer fee that Chelsea will surely get for selling Courtois should help make things a little easier for the Blues.