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With the surprise news that Victor Valdes will not renew his contract when it expires after next season, fans and pundits alike have been bandying about potential replacements for the La Masia product.
One name that has reportedly popped up on Barca's radar is Belgian international Thibaut Courtois. The 20-year-old made his international debut in November of 2011 and has since been his country's No. 1 keeper.
The property of Chelsea, he has spent the last season and a half on loan at Atletico Madrid, currently placed second in the La Liga standings. This extended loan has given Barca's brass a good look at the young goalie, and rumors are they like what they see.
There are problems with making any moves for the youngster in this window. First off, it's doubtful that Atletico would allow anything to interfere with the current loan deal with them in line for a Champions League place.
Second, his parent club, Chelsea, may not be interested in selling—in this window or any other.
The Blues currently have one of the five best goalkeepers in the world in Petr Cech between the sticks, but the Czech international is 30 years old. Goalkeepers age well, but Roman Abramovich will soon have to decide whether he wants to pull the trigger and put the youngster in goal or gamble on how long Cech will be a top-level player and cash in on his top prospect.
Another possibility from the outside is Liverpool stopper Pepe Reina. The Reds starter began his career at Barca before moving to Villarreal and then to his current stomping grounds at Anfield in 2005.
I think what happens here will depend on what Barca has in the pipeline at La Masia. If there are any keepers they think are only a year or two away, they could take a shot at the 30-year-old Reina. If not, a hard move at Courtois would definitely seem logical—although neither move would likely be made until the summer.