The fantastic form Victor Valdes is in this season for Barcelona doesn’t change the fact that he’s leaving at the end of the season, and the club needs to find a new goalkeeper to anchor the defense for the future. The best option on the table? Thiabut Courtois, on loan at Atletico Madrid for the last two years and a Chelsea player once more when the season is over.
Many rate the 21-year old as the best goalkeeper in Spain already, winning the Zamora trophy last season. He’s already played 11 times for the national team, and is part of this new golden generation Belgium have introduced, which is very close to taking them into the World Cup.
At the end of this season, in which Courtois has conceded only six goals so far, just like Valdes from Barcelona, he will be returning to Chelsea, where the option of battling for the starting position with Petr Cech will once again be an object that might holding his career back.
Courtois wants to play, and is better than being someone who sits on the bench behind a veteran goalkeeper, learning, waiting. He’s playing in the Champions League for the first time this season, and like in the league, Atletico have been doing very well. His performance on the biggest stage in Europe (even though La Liga matches might be tougher at this stage) draws the attention of Barcelona, who are still hoping Valdes changes him mind at some point, but are also moving their plans of finding a replacement for him forward. There has been talk of Marc-André ter Stegen of Monchengladbach, but Courtois is probably the better keeper, with more La Liga experience.
The problem, in the end, might be Chelsea themselves. He is signed until 2016 at Chelsea, and their current manager, Jose Mourinho, won’t be too happy selling him to a club he detests from even before his time at Real Madrid. Mourinho isn’t one to advocate young players taking over lineup spots, but Courtois talent might be too great to ignore at a certain point.
In any case, it’s hard to believe Chelsea will sell him for less than £20 million, and if Atletico go further in the Champions League, not to mention a strong World Cup for Courtois, his price might go even higher.