Barcelona's hunt for a new goalkeeper is unlikely to feature Chelsea's Thibaut Courtois after the player's father confirmed moving to the Camp Nou was "never an option" for the talented shot-stopper.
As reported by Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad via Stephan Uersfeld of ESPN FC, Thierry Courtois suggests his son is only willing to play for the Blues or Atletico Madrid—the team he is currently spending his third season with on loan:
"Thibaut is under contract at Atletico until June 30. There are only two clubs that are important to him—Chelsea and Atletico," said Thierry.
The player's father also suggested Barca have "opted for" Marc-Andre ter Stegen in light of Courtois' dismissal, suggesting the Borussia Monchengladbach keeper could soon be on his way to La Liga. Monchengladbach have confirmed Ter Stegen wishes to leave, as tweeted by ESPN FC:
WhoScored.com writer Daniel Busch also suggests the player will leave the Bundesliga club during the summer:
Ter Stegen turned down an offer to extend his contract that currently runs until 2015. Gladbach will cash in on him in summer.— Daniel Busch (@dan_bu) January 6, 2014
Ter Stegen, much like Courtois, is among the best young goalkeepers in the world. While both players have a huge future ahead of them, it seems Gerardo Martino will opt for a German influence between the sticks, as reported by Pete Jenson of the Daily Mail back in Oct. 2013.
The new arrival, whoever it turns out to be, will replace Victor Valdes at the end of the current campaign. Valdes has spent over 11 years in goal for La Blaugrana and is expected to join Monaco during the summer transfer window, as highlighted in an alternate Jenson report for the Daily Mail.
Manuel Neuer, the current German No. 1, believes Ter Stegen possesses substantial quality. However, he has questioned whether the youngster is ready for Barca just yet, per Yahoo! Eurosport:
Ter Stegen is definitely a great goalkeeper. He is agile and knows very well how to solve the most complicated of situations. I do not know if he is yet ready to play at Barca, that is something you should ask his technical staff.
Both Jose Mourinho and Chelsea fans will breathe a sigh of relief knowing the Spanish champions are looking away from Courtois, especially as the player's future has been a hot topic in recent times.
With Atletico currently pushing their Catalan rivals all the way for the Spanish title—equalling Barca's total of 49 points from 18 games—Courtois currently has the best clean sheet record in the division, per WhoScored:
Which goalkeeper is best suited to replacing Victor Valdes at Barcelona?
Courtois' future remains unclear and depends on whether Mourinho sees him as an immediate replacement for Petr Cech, as covered in-depth here.
While the Portuguese boss would be foolish to let the youngster permanently leave, he faces a difficult task in convincing the Belgian to remain at Stamford Bridge below the Czech veteran.
Although this saga still has plenty of time to develop, Mourinho will be given greater time to decide Courtois' fate if Barcelona go through with the Ter Stegen deal.