Chelsea Transfer News: Why Thibaut Courtois Should Start for Blues Next Season

Gianni Verschueren@ReverschPassFeatured ColumnistJune 18, 2014

Belgium's goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois jumps to catch the ball during a team training session in Mogi Das Cruzes, Brazil, Friday, June 13, 2014. Belgium play in group H of the 2014 soccer World Cup. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Andrew Medichini/Associated Press

Thibaut Courtois is set to finally return to Chelsea following several years on loan with Atletico Madrid, and the Belgian international should be coming back to London to start.

As reported by The Daily Mail's Simon Jones, Jose Mourinho confirmed the young stopper would be playing for the Blues next season:

"When the World Cup is over, Courtois will come straight back to Stamford Bridge—end of story."

It's the strongest signal the Portuguese has given yet concerning Courtois' future, and it seems pretty plain—Mourinho wants Courtois at Stamford Bridge next season, and it's clear to see why.

When the Belgian left for Atletico Madrid three years ago, he was a young, gifted stopper with sensational reflexes for a player his size. He struggled with his command of the box and lacked experience, but his potential was obvious.

Three years later, that player is gone. Courtois is now a top-three goalkeeper, and arguably already the greatest in the world. His reaction speed is phenomenal, no single keeper is quicker to the ground than the Belgian, and his command has improved to the point where it's now a strength.

Positioning? Check. Ability in the air? Check. Any weaknesses? Hardly. His right foot isn't as good as Manuel Neuer's, and that's just about it. He is by far the best young goalkeeper in the world right now, and at just 22 years of age, his potential for even further growth is scary.

Of course, Chelsea already have a very good stopper. His name is Petr Cech, and he has arguably been the club's most consistent performer for the better part of the past decade.

Paulo Duarte/Associated Press

The Blues have won silverware with their Czech talisman, and when called upon, Cech has never let the club down. The 32-year-old may slowly be approaching the tail-end of his career, but goalkeepers can normally continue playing at a high level far longer than outfield players.

Cech has no reason to just give up his spot as Chelsea's starter, and he shouldn't. I'm not suggesting Mourinho proclaim Courtois the starting goalkeeper two hours into training camp, but when it's all said and done, it should be the Belgian minding the Blues' nets next season.

Paul White/Associated Press

In a head-to-head between the two, the chances of Cech coming out on top are very small. Courtois has proven both his abilities and consistency over the last three years, and Cech's experience no longer serves as the deciding factor.

Courtois is a better athlete. He has better size, he's quicker and his reaction speed is unmatched. He's been wildly successful on every level, playing a vital part in Atletico's La Liga win in 2013-14 and their excellent run during the UEFA Champions League.

With the Belgian Red Devils, he's arguably been even better. Via HLN's Kristof Terreur, Belgium have never lost when the 22-year-old was playing:

Cech deserves tremendous praise for everything he has done for Chelsea and for everything he could still do, but no matter how you look at it, Courtois is just the better player.

A summer-long battle between the two for the right to be the starting goalkeeper would make sense in a perfect world, but football is a business. It's as much about politics and economics as it is about the actual game, and at the age of 22, Chelsea simply can't ignore Courtois' upside and long-term potential.

As fans, it's easy to expect players to wait their turn and get exactly what they deserve. It's how we want the world to work, but in reality, it hardly ever happens. The £35 million signing will always get a chance to start over the product of the youth academy—that's just how it is.

In this case, the younger player, who has made it clear he wouldn't mind staying in Madrid—as reported by BILD (h/t to The Evening Standard's Sam Johnston), will be given whatever his heart desires in order to maintain his happiness.

Is there a way Cech and Courtois can coexist on the same team? Perhaps, but it seems unlikely. The Belgian doesn't want to concede any minutes, and after winning the La Liga's Goalkeeper of the Year award in back-to-back seasons, chances are he won't feel like there's much Cech can still teach him.

It would be an unfortunate end to Cech's time with the Blues, but sometimes, things just play out this way. Courtois' current abilities and long-term potential are just too good to pass up for Chelsea, and going into the 2014-15 season, it'll be his turn to shine at Stamford Bridge.



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