Real Madrid could be planning a sensational swoop for Chelsea's Thibaut Courtois as current No. 1 Diego Lopez nears a move to Serie A giants AC Milan.
Enrico Passarella of GianlucaDimarzio.com writes that the Italians have made an approach for Lopez. Milan CEO Adriano Galliani and Los Blancos president Florentino Perez are directly discussing the transfer.
The potential deal could see a domino effect with the Galacticos looking to exploit Courtois' position at Chelsea, to whom he recently returned after three years in the Spanish capital on loan to Atletico Madrid.
Alex Harris of the Daily Star notes that El Confidencial reports the Belgium international could be interested in a move back to Madrid after enjoying life in Spain, and that Perez and agent Jorge Mendes have discussed the player's current predicament in West London.
Chelsea have recently retained the services of long-time servant Petr Cech, so the 22-year-old Courtois may find himself on the Stamford Bridge bench next year.
However, despite Chelsea's recent 3-0 loss to Werder Bremen, Blues boss Jose Mourinho praised Courtois in pre-season, proclaiming that the Belgian is the best young goalkeeper in the world.
But he also said, per Oliver Todd of the Daily Mail:
Courtois has only had two days of training, he is not ready. He needs to play, we don’t have lots of time until the beginning of the season – there’s two more weeks so we need to give him more playing time. Petr (Cech) is the same so the decision was 45-45 here and the next match in Turkey will be exactly the same thing.
He (Courtois) had a fabulous save from the (Franco) Di Santo header, after that in the other two goals he has no chance and he was quiet - but the save was fantastic.
Courtois starred for Atletico last season as Diego Simeone's team stormed to the La Liga title. He played 37 times domestically in the league, per WhoScored.com, with his stock accelerating rapidly throughout the year.
His return to his parent club seemed inevitable after his fine form last season, but it is still unknown whether Cech will be preferred ahead of him.
Chelsea have taken the strange step of not printing Courtois shirts for the upcoming campaign yet, suggesting his future might lay in considerable doubt.
Ben McAleer of WhoScored.com tweeted this:
"We're not printing Courtois shirts because he's yet to be given a squad number." a shop worker said when asked to buy a Courtois shirt.— Ben McAleer (@BenMcAleer1) July 29, 2014
It will be no surprise to see Lopez exit Madrid after the recent capture of Keylor Navas, and the Galacticos would find Courtois a fantastic signing after his efforts for their hated neighbours. However, with Mourinho fully appreciative of the goalkeeper's talent, it is unlikely that he will sell to his former club.
Will Chelsea sell Thibaut Courtois this season?
Chelsea will have to micromanage the situation between Courtois and Cech this year and keep the young player happy. Cech has seen his best days in a Blues' shirt, and Courtois is the future of the club.
But if the Belgian truly is keen to return to Madrid, the Galacticos are used to always getting their man.