Since arriving in 2004, Petr Cech has been a rock in goal for Chelsea, and as a result, the Blues haven't had to worry much about retaining the services of high-end goalkeepers.
But now, that philosophy must be altered slightly.
At 30, Cech shouldn't be viewed as a long-term option for the Blues, especially given that during his recent three-game absence due to a groin injury (via ESPN.com), Chelsea won just once in three starts with 28-year-old backup Ross Turnbull in goal, including losses to Queens Park and Swansea City.
That's not to say that Cech is going to stop being a legitimate No. 1 keeper anytime soon, as the Czech stopper is less than a year removed from helping the Blues to the 2012 Champions League crown, but Rafael Benitez shouldn't be putting all of his eggs in one basket.
And that is precisely why Benitez should be leaning towards keeping young Thibaut Courtois in the fold beyond 2013.
Courtois, a 20-year-old Belgian keeper, has been loaned out to Atletico Madrid since July of 2011, and has flourished in La Liga, as he seized the first-team position last season, and has helped the club climb to second place in the league.
Now, with Courtois' loan up at the end of the season, the Blues will have to decide whether to keep the promising young keeper, or sell him off to another top European club.
Courtois has been linked with a move to Barcelona as a replacement for Victor Valdes, who has refused to sign a contract extension on his current deal, which is set to expire in 2014. However, the Belgian international's father has now dismissed speculation regarding a switch to Camp Nou and stated that his son is looking for a future with Chelsea.
"At this moment there is no contract with Barcelona. A few days ago Thibaut had contact with the goalkeeper coach of Chelsea, who will soon report on his progress at Atletico. When this is done, we will work with Chelsea and talk about his future," Courtois Sr. explained.
Obviously, if the Blues were to retain the services of Courtois, at some point down the road, there will be the inevitable pressure to give the Belgium international a chance to prove himself, but that's what managing an elite club is all about: Benitez has to give opportunities to those who deserve them.
For now, Courtois will continue to make a case for himself in Madrid, where he's recorded a remarkable 10 clean sheets in 19 games this season, but it won't be long before Benitez and the Blues will have to make a decision with regards to the future of their goalkeeping corps.
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