Chelsea's on loan goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois should choose his next step carefully
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho revealed that Thibaut Courtois, who is on loan with Atletico Madrid, will not be sent out on a temporary basis next season and will work his way into the first team instead. The 21-year-old is currently one of the best goalkeepers in the world but his chances of playing for Chelsea anytime soon are blocked by Petr Cech who has been brilliant this season and is still capable of playing at the highest level. Mourinho will have a selection headache on his hands as both the keepers are at the top of the game. Chelsea will try their best to keep hold of Courtois but the keeper needs to think about himself too.
The Belgian has been spectacular this season keeping 12 clean sheets in 25 games along with making 47 saves. The keeper hit the ground running when he arrived in Spain back in 2011. Courtois kept four clean sheets in his first six games and managed to displace Sergio Asenjo as the Atletico’s first choice shot stopper. The keeper continued his strong form throughout the campaign and even helped his team win the Europa League. Courtois’s good form earned him a one year extension to his loan deal.
The Belgium international continued his good form, going 820 minutes without conceding a goal which was an Atletico Madrid record. The keeper soon became a fan favourite and inspired a new word called ‘Thibauting’ after he was pictured making an incredible save at the start of 2013. Courtois put in a Man of the Match performance in the 2-1 win over Real Madrid in the 2013 Copa Del Ray final helping his team beat Los Blancos after 14 long years.
Petr Cech has also been amazing this season. The Czech goalkeeper has kept a total of 12 clean sheets in 28 games along with making a remarkable 64 saves. The keeper is second in the Premier League Goalkeeper Standings, below Arsenal stopper Wojciech Szczesny who has faced more shots than his counterpart. The 31-year-old is one of the main reasons why Stamford Bridge is an impregnable fortress this season. Cech has still got a few good years left in him and is in no mood to give up him number 1 jersey anytime soon.
Problems will arise when Courtois and Cech compete for the number 1 spot next season. Cech is still only 31 which is not old for a goalkeeper. Courtois is already 21 and will be a year older in May which will rule out the possibility of him playing in Chelsea’s Under-21 team. The Belgian will not enjoy warming the bench or playing in the Reserves after having such an amazing time with Atletico, who he helped win a couple of trophies.
Courtois has already displaced Simon Mignolet as the Belgium national team’s first choice shot stopper and will almost certainly line up for his country in the World Cup this year. The keeper stated that he has no intention of letting Mignolet regain his place in the squad which shows just how much Courtois likes being involved in the first team. It would be almost criminal to leave a World Cup starter on the bench at Stamford Bridge.
Mourinho can do justice to both his keepers by using a rotation policy much like he did with Carlo Cudicini when Cech arrived at the London club in 2004. The Portuguese tactician can give Courtois a chance to shine and can make him a permanent starter if he is successful. Courtois may have problems adapting to the English game much like his Atletico predecessor David De Gea did when he first arrived at Manchester United. If Courtois struggles then Petr Cech can regain his place until his deputy learns to adapt.
If Courtois doesn’t get a proper chance at Chelsea then he will certainly leave the club. There would be no shortage of takers for the talented keeper. Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and even Barcelona, who are searching for Victor Valdes’s replacement have all expressed interest in Courtois’s signature.
It would be a pity if Courtois leaves Chelsea as the Premier League would not get to fully witness the talents of a keeper who is certain to become one of the very best in his position in a few years.