Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois has bade farewell to his former Atletico Madrid teammates, bringing to a close a three-year loan spell with the La Liga champions.
The 22-year-old Belgium international—recently returned from the World Cup—has become one of the world's finest young goalkeepers during his time at the Vicente Calderon. But he now returns to parent club Chelsea for the forthcoming season, as Blues boss Jose Mourinho previously insisted he would, as per BBC Sport: "When the World Cup is over," Mourinho stated, "Courtois will come straight back to Stamford Bridge - end of story."
According to Spanish outlet AS, Courtois said his goodbyes on Thursday, cutting ties with the club with which he won La Liga, the Europa League, the Copa del Rey and reached a Champions League final:
Thibaut Courtois said goodbye to the Atletico squad this afternoon. He’s returning to Chelsea, where he’ll be next season, after his loan deal with the Madrid club came to an end. The Belgian keeper went to the Atleti training ground of Cerro del Espino with his girlfriend. He picked up his things and said goodbye, one by one, to the players who just a month ago were his teammates.
It remains to be seen whether Courtois will take the No.1 goalkeeping spot at Stamford Bridge, especially considering the presence of first-choice shot-stopper Petr Cech at the west London club.
ESPN.co.uk reports that Cech will be demoted for the 2014-15 campaign, but Mourinho wants to keep him at the club:
Courtois is set to be Chelsea's No.1 next season but Mourinho wants to keep Cech sweet by giving him vice-captaincy: http://t.co/EPiKFZURA3— ESPN.co.uk (@ESPNUK) July 10, 2014
At only 32, Cech still has many years left in his career and could potentially be a No. 1 at a whole host of other top clubs.
Furthermore, Mark Schwarzer has recently signed a one-year extension to his current contract at Chelsea, as per Chris Davie of Goal.com.
Chelsea have made a £5million offer for Udinese goalkeeper Simone Scuffet and hope to beat Atletico Madrid to a deal. The 18-year-old, who established himself as first-choice for Udinese last season, has been tipped to become a star by Italy international Gianluigi Buffon.
Scuffet has been described by many as a star of the future, including by beIN Sports' Matteo Bonetti:
Today on @beINSPORTSUSA: Udinese v Juventus at 2:45pm ET. Battle between 17 y/o wonder kid Simone Scuffet and Gigi Buffon— Matteo Bonetti (@TheCalcioGuy) April 14, 2014
Scuffet made 16 Serie A appearances last season as Udinese finished 13th in the league. In all likelihood, Chelsea would look to loan Scuffet out as they did with Courtois on his arrival.
He is unlikely to compete for the No. 1 spot for some time, but he certainly would be a good investment for the future as Chelsea look to extend their run of fine keepers.
According to Joe Krishnan in The Independent, another youngster reportedly subject to a bid from Chelsea is Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Adrien Rabiot, whom the Blues are looking to bring in for £7 million.
The 19-year-old made 25 appearances as PSG won Ligue 1 last season and has been linked with numerous European clubs during the summer window as his transfer negotiations stall, as per Sky Sports.
As a long-term replacement for the recently departed Frank Lampard, Rabiot looks quite a prospect in the centre of midfield.
Who should be Chelsea's No.1 next season?
However, Mourinho's primary concern is likely to be resolving his goalkeeping issues. There is no doubt that Cech would be a terrific person to keep around at the club, but if he is supplanted as the No. 1, he may look elsewhere.
Equally, Courtois would not be happy playing second fiddle to Cech, having performed so splendidly last season in Spain. It is a delicate situation that Mourinho will need to handle carefully to avoid causing disruption in his ranks next season.