Thibaut Courtois may have to sign a new contract with Chelsea if he wishes to play against Jose Mourinho's Blues for Atletico Madrid.
The Belgian stopper, currently completing his third loan season with the Spanish club, cannot take part in a potential Champions League showdown against his parent team unless Atletico pay £2.5 million per match. As reported by Adrian Kajumba of the Daily Star, Chelsea may lower this major cost if it coaxes Courtois into signing a new contract:
Sources in Belgium claim Chelsea are considering using the clause as a bargaining chip in their attempts to get Courtois to sign a new deal.
Chelsea are understood to be willing to drop their demands for payment if Courtois signs a new contract which won't include the clause.
Atletico president Enrique Cerezo has already confirmed the team cannot pay £5 million if his side are drawn against Chelsea in the European semi-final, which would include two legs.
Should Atletico Madrid pay Thibaut Courtois' fee if the club are drawn against Chelsea?
"It's a number we can't afford to pay," admitted Cerezo. As noted by Kajumba, many believe this quote is an "outside attempt" to land a sponsor who would fund Courtois' appearance. The situation is rather unique, throwing up inconsistencies between the Premier League and UEFA's rules, the latter of which has no guidelines for loan players coming up against their parent team.
Courtois' participation would be ruled out if this was an English domestic encounter, as we saw with Romelu Lukaku's lack of appearances during Everton's battles with the Blues this season.
The Telegraph's Matt Law suggests Atletico will have paid Chelsea £12 million across three years if Courtois appears in two legs against them, a hefty sum considering the starlet's lack of permanent transfer. He also confirms that previous experience against Courtois forced Chelsea into adding the clause that threatens to dismantle's Diego Simeone's quest for Champions League glory:
Courtois was part of the Atlético team who beat Chelsea in the final of the Uefa Super Cup in 2012. It is believed that prompted Chelsea to insert a clause into his latest deal that means the La Liga club must also pay for the Belgian to play against his parent club.
It is understandable why the Premier League stops loanees from taking on their full-time employers. A poor performance or key mistake would eventually be met with claims of match-fixing, or indeed, the player in question could subtly help his team by relaying information from his temporary dressing room.
Even so, there's considerable risk when paying such a lofty sum for 90 minutes. If Courtois was to get injured inside the opening minute, Atletico would have essentially wasted cash that could have been spent elsewhere.
Tancredi Palmeri of beINsport suggested the La Liga leaders should call on their fans to help fund a less risky method:
They won't. But if Atletico would start a subscription to pay the fee to make play Courtois, I would pay it. Then post it and campaigning— Tancredi Palmeri (@tancredipalmeri) April 9, 2014
Of course, this difficult situation may fail to arise if the two teams miss each other in the next round. Friday's draw, which also includes Bayern Munich and Real Madrid, will help decide whether Atletico have an immediate decision to make.
Courtois is a match-winner on his day, the kind of goalkeeper whose powerful frame and shot-stopping skills can earn Atletico this year's prize. He has a major role to play in the remainder of the campaign and it will be extremely harsh to see him potentially sit out of two glamour ties.
Should the Spaniards meet Chelsea in the final, that £2.5 million will start to appear attractive.