Chelsea

Chelsea Transfer News: Thibaut Courtois Swap Key to Diego Costa's Atletico Exit

MADRID, SPAIN - JANUARY 11:  Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois of Atletico de Madrid greets the audience after the La Liga match between Club Atletico de Madrid and FC Barcelona at Vicente Calderon Stadium on January 11, 2014 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)
Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images
Nick AkermanFeatured ColumnistJanuary 28, 2014

Chelsea have reportedly "agreed" a swap deal with Atletico Madrid that will see Thibaut Courtois permanently remain at the La Liga club, with Diego Costa heading the other way.

As written by Charlie Skillen of the Daily Mail, Courtois—who is currently spending his third season on loan at Atletico—has confirmed he only wishes to return to Stamford Bridge if he is given the No. 1 spot:

It is not up to me to say I am going to be No 1. But neither do I want to go to a team and not play. I want to play, if not at Chelsea, then at another team.

I know that Atletico want to make an effort to sign me, but it depends on Chelsea, on what they want and how much they are going to ask.

Jose Mourinho is unlikely to offer Courtois residency between the Stamford Bridge sticks just yet. Petr Cech remains an important player and still has a few years of top-level football left in him at the age of 31, suggesting Courtois will have to move on if he is to continue his development.

Costa certainly represents the type of forward Mourinho needs. His pace, power and finishing ability have come to the fore this season, scoring 23 goals in 24 appearances across La Liga and the Champions League, per WhoScored.com.

This is a far cry from Fernando Torres, Samuel Eto'o and Demba Ba, who collectively have 17 in the Premier League and Europe.

Costa's stunning form is amplified by a recent dip, per OptaJose:

Mourinho would certainly be brave to let Courtois go. The 21-year-old currently ranks among the world's best young goalkeepers and has already established himself at every level of the game.

He is a ready-made replacement for Cech, someone who has played a major role in landing silverware during his time with Atletico and could halt Chelsea's need for a new stopper if he is given a chance.

As noted in Skillen's report, the Belgian expects his future to be sorted across the coming weeks:

First my agent is going to talk with Chelsea to see when I can speak with someone there, and from there we can take another step.

Now Atleti are waiting until Chelsea says something. Maybe by the end of March, more or less.

Mourinho's last Chelsea team was built around an all-action forward, a certain Didier Drogba, but bringing in Costa at the expense of Courtois is undoubtedly a huge risk. The stopper is a real gem and offers the type of quality that doesn't come around often in young keepers.

While Costa would surely prove a success in England, Mourinho's second Chelsea tenure could be defined by whether he lets one of his brightest talents leave.

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