When you make your bed, you invariably have to lie in it. Victor Valdes appears to have made his, choosing not to renew his contract with Barcelona—it expires next summer—plunging the Catalan giants into the market for a new goalkeeper.
Loyalty counts little in football, and Valdes, who is approaching 500 appearances for the club, may find himself playing second fiddle next season should the right stopper become available.
Valencia's Vicente Guaita, Bayern Munich's Manuel Neuer, Liverpool's Pepe Reina and Manchester United's David de Gea are all joined on a five-man shortlist by the man La Blaugrana should do all they can to bring in this summer: Thibaut Courtois.
But Chelsea do have a dilemma. Petr Cech is still only 30, which in goalkeeping terms is still considered quite young, and the Stamford Bridge club could be forced into a decision on how soon they'd be prepared to overhaul the Czech international.
There is only a certain amount of time they will be able to keep Courtois—who comes from a family of professional volleyball players—happy, moving him out on loan each season when some may argue he's as good as Cech already.
Last summer, the Blues wanted Courtois to move to an English club so they could closer monitor his progress and have him return to Cobham more often. It wasn't something he was interested in (via the Guardian):
I would adapt to football in England if I went there on loan, but you will let in two or four goals every game and that is not good for your confidence. For that reason, I think it was easier for them to let me stay [at Atletico Madrid].
18 - Thibaut Courtois has kept more clean sheets than any other La Liga keeper in 2012 (18). Safety.12/21/2012, 11:13:30 PM
For such a young professional he seems to possess confidence which doesn't border arrogance—something often amiss from modern footballers, and it is that confidence that would make him the perfect replacement for Valdes.
Multi-lingual, Courtois picked up Spanish quickly and a move to Barcelona would no doubt see him pick up the La Masia style and Barcelona blueprint as quickly as he learns languages—he speaks Flemish, French, English, Spanish and German at varying levels.
It is not just the confidence, the advantage of youth and his adaptability that make him the must-get-signing at Camp Nou this summer. He is also, as demonstrated over the last 18 months at Atletico, a very good 'keeper.
Already a league champion with Genk, a winner of the Europa League and UEFA Super Cup with Los Rojiblancos and the Belgian No.1 in a Belgium team brimming with quality, Courtois is hotly fancied to compete at the World Cup in Brazil next year.
Chelsea will be reluctant to lose him, they'll also be reluctant to lose Cech, though, and if Barcelona drum up some genuine interest it is not unimaginable that Thibaut Courtois would be in favor of forcing the move through.