Jose Mourinho wants Thibaut Courtois to return from his Atletico Madrid loan and challenge Petr Cech for the Chelsea goalkeeper jersey next season, reports Alan Nixon of The Sunday People via The Mirror.
The Belgian shot-stopper joined Chelsea from Genk on a five-year deal back in 2011 but has yet to make an appearance for the Stamford Bridge outfit. Courtois has spent the last three seasons on loan in Madrid, establishing himself as one of the world's finest goalkeepers in the process. And just to make sure Chelsea were aware of his talent, he helped knock his parent club out of the Champions League in April.
It is no surprise, then, that Mourinho wants Courtois back in London, as reported by Nixon:
Mourinho wants to start with a bang next season and bringing in fit and flying Courtois would be part of that plan. The Blues are also concerned that Courtois could get used to being away from them and they need to have him back on board. It would put a question mark over popular Cech, but Mourinho has never been afraid to make the major calls.
There is little doubt that Chelsea would only recall Courtois if they could guarantee him first-team football, and that may prove ominous for long-term goalkeeper Petr Cech.
Cech was one of the first signings of the Roman Abramovich era back in 2004 and has collected three Premier League titles, four FA Cups and one Champions League trophy along the way.
At just 31 years old, the stalwart keeper is far from finished. Cech is still in his prime, and it is likely that a host of European sides would chase his signature if he were to be demoted at Stamford Bridge.
Courtois has been busy pursuing silverware of his own in Madrid. Atletico lead the La Liga title race and face a showdown with city rivals Real Madrid in the Champions League final later this month.
Chelsea's decision will be heavily influenced by Mourinho's report on his first season back in English football. Reported by Dominic Fifield of The Guardian, Mourinho wants to retain the experienced Frank Lampard, John Terry and Ashley Cole, in addition to the recall of Romelu Lukaku and Courtois on loan from Everton and Atletico respectively.
Fifield reports Mourinho's comments:
On Courtois I've made a decision but I'm not the club. I'm the manager. I will inform the club about my opinion, not just with a simple comment made in a corridor…I like to do things in a proper way, to be committed with my opinions, so I will do it in writing. That's the proper way to do it officially.
So my final report will have, in detail, this kind of case which you can compare with Lukaku. Courtois's was also a successful loan, a long loan in this case. I have my opinion very clearly. My job is to analyse things, to have opinions and make my decisions. After that the club is the club. Obviously I have to work for and with the club and respect the club's decisions. I have made clear my opinions."
But Cech is backing himself to fight off any challenge that may come his way next season. The Czech international keeper recently made his 100th appearance in the Champions League and holds the record for Chelsea clean sheets with more than 200 in his 10 years in West London.
Cech was bullish when speaking to the Daily Mail's Matt Barlow recently:
If, on the first day of pre-season, Thibaut Courtois is here, he is here. If he is not, he is not. It does not change anything. I will still have to do better than whoever else is here, to keep my place. It doesn’t change anything for me. You could ask John Terry or Gary Cahill about the very promising French central defender bought by the club.
If he comes back and he’s better than me, credit to him, well done to him, but who knows? I’m not afraid. I’m not a fool to think I’ve been here 10 years and I’ll be here another five, just because.
I am not playing because my name is Petr Cech. I’m playing because I’ve been playing well and because the manager thinks it improves the team with me in goal. I’ve never had a manager who would just put me in the goal because everybody was used to seeing me there.
And therein will lie Jose Mourinho's problem come August. Should Courtois return to Chelsea, the Portuguese will have two of the world's finest goalkeepers on his hands—players with bottomless self-belief and the talent to back it up.
Mourinho has built a reputation for ruthlessness when disassembling and rebuilding squads, but the Courtois-Cech collision could necessitate the most careful piece of man-management of his career to date.