Atletico Madrid are preparing to make the services of Chelsea's goalkeeping wonderkid Thibaut Courtois permanent with a bid of more than £20 million for the young player, per Gary Jones of The Daily Star.
Atletico manager Diego Simeone said of the player:
For me anything paid for Courtois would be cheap. He's a young guy who has a huge future and is on track to becoming one of the best goalkeepers in the world.
Signing a goalkeeper of his caliber would be a big step, but it will not be easy. It depends on what Courtois wants, the club (Chelsea) knows our needs, but it is not up to us, because he is is not our player.
The player himself has previously spoken of his confusion toward his parent club's intentions for him. Chelsea have loaned Courtois out for the past three seasons, and the Spaniard recently said, per Jones' article, "I need to make a decision with Chelsea as soon as possible, in March, but at the moment I do not really want to talk because there are so many games and you must be focused."
Simeone will be desperate not to lose a player whose reputation has exploded during his time playing in Spain.
Courtois has had a tremendous season this year, achieving 10 clean sheets from his 20 matches, per Squawka.
There is always the option for Chelsea to recall Courtois, but it is highly unlikely the Belgian would favour becoming Petr Cech's understudy, rather than playing for one of La Liga's biggest teams.
The future of Cech himself will be intrinsically linked with that of any deal for Courtois, with Jose Mourinho having to decide whether to go with a hugely talented young goalkeeper or an experienced international, who is now on the wrong side of 30 years old.
Cech's form has been solid for Mourinho since the manager returned to Stamford Bridge from Real Madrid. Eight clean sheets from 22 appearances, with an average of less than a goal conceded per game, per Squawka, has seen the Blues comfortably compete with Arsenal and Manchester City for top spot in the Premier League.
It would be a huge leap of faith for Mourinho to go with Courtois as his first choice, despite his burgeoning reputation. A large transfer fee received for the player could be his preferred option as he looks toward strengthening his squad in the summer.
Atletico previously had not been expected to pay that fee, but Simeone's words suggest otherwise.
It is a dilemma for Mourinho. In the past he has been criticised for not exploiting the youth at his disposal, opting to favour his veterans and trusted professionals. If his philosophy is to stay with Chelsea for many years and build a long-term dynasty, then bringing back Courtois would be the first step in this process.
If Mourinho decides to stick with the tried-and-trusted formula that has yielded him so much success over his career, then it is almost certain he will not look to retain the impressive goalkeeping talent.
Atletico's desire to hold on to the player at all costs will be one financial opportunity that Chelsea could try to exploit to its maximum potential.
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