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Chelsea Should Rebuff Barcelona's Thibault Courtois Interest at All Costs

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - OCTOBER 16:  Thibaut Courtois of Belgium celebrates their first goal during the FIFA 2012 World Cup Qualifier match between Belgium and Scotland on October 16, 2012 in Brussels, Belgium.  (Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images)
Scott Heavey/Getty Images
Garry HayesFeatured ColumnistSeptember 6, 2013

Barcelona have already been denied in their pursuit of one Chelsea star this summer, but it seems they remain unperturbed in their endeavors to do business with the Blues.

First it was David Luiz the Spanish giants wanted and now, according to reports in The Independent, they have their eyes on Thibaut Courtois after their very own Victor Valdes confirmed this season will be his last in Catalonia.

With Petr Cech ahead of him in the goalkeeper ranks, Courtois has spent the past two seasons on loan at Atletico Madrid—this season marking his third year in the Spanish capital.

In that time his stock has risen considerably and without the 21-year-old even making a single performance for Chelsea, the Blues could be in line to make £23 million profit should Barcelona stump up the cash they're reportedly willing to put Chelsea's way.

For the money men, it's a deal not to be scoffed at. Here's a player who cost just £7 million from Genk in 2011 and now Barca are hunting him, willing to pay a considerable sum to bring him to the Nou Camp.

In football terms, however, it's a much different story.

Allowing Courtois to depart Stamford Bridge would be a disaster. Not only does he have a fine career ahead of him, but losing a player of his talents would send out an alarming message across the continent.

This summer, it may have taken over 100 days to agree, but Tottenham Hotspur were eventually forced into the sale of their best player to Real Madrid, Gareth Bale.

The club demanded a staggering fee—which they received to the tune of £86 million—yet it reaffirmed their status among Europe's elite. Make no mistake, they're a big club, but not that big it would seem.

In allowing Bale to leave, despite the signings Spurs were able to make on the back of his departure, it outlines the fact they cannot compete with more established names on the continent, including their domestic rivals.

Chelsea themselves pursued a marquee signing of their own in Wayne Rooney. Manchester United weren't interested in selling him and they didn't. Why? Perhaps out a desire to keep a player of his talents in David Moyes' squad, but we can also assume out of principle.

The English champions are not a selling club, least of all to their rivals. Throughout their history, United have made a habit—a fine one at that—of allowing players to leave on their terms. For one reason or another they demanded Rooney stay and that he did, whether he was happy or not.

Courtois still has a lot to achieve in the game to have his status compared with Rooney or Bale. The point remains, however, he is going to be one of the stars of his generation.

His two years in Madrid have shown that and, like the rest of Europe, Chelsea are fully aware if it too. Losing Courtois to Barcelona now, next year or further down the line, would suggest Chelsea are perhaps not going to follow his own trail into the stratosphere.

The financial profit sounds tempting, although there is much more to football—and sport in general for that matter—than a balance sheet. Chelsea do not need to sell players, least of all one of the most promising talents coming through at the club.

For Blues fans a little concerned over developments where Courtois is concerned, they can breath a sigh of relief for now. The Belgian doesn't appear to be making plans to go anywhere just yet.

"The club [Chelsea] and Jose Mourinho wanted me back for this season and also considered the option of sending me out to a team in the Premier League," Courtois told the Evening Standard.

"But I was not interested in this option, I feel good in Madrid and wanted to play in the Champions League with Atletico. I was not afraid of fighting for a spot with Petr Cech. I have no fear of anyone, I believe in my qualities."

His immediate future is at the Vicente Calderon Stadium, but Courtois speaks like a man who knows his place at Stamford Bridge is waiting for him. So should Chelsea.

Garry Hayes is Bleacher Report's lead Chelsea correspondent and will be following the club from a London base throughout the 2013-14 season. Follow him on Twitter here @garryhayes

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