Chelsea

Chelsea Transfer News: Thibaut Courtois in Major Barcelona, Real Madrid Rumours

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 9: Goalkeeper of Chelsea Thibaut Courtois in action during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 second leg match between Chelsea FC and Paris Saint-Germain at Stamford Bridge stadium on March 9, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)
Jean Catuffe/Getty Images
James DudkoFeatured ColumnistMarch 27, 2016

Bitter La Liga rivals Barcelona and Real Madrid are reportedly set for a transfer scrap over Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois this summer.

Barca are keeping an eye on the Belgian stopper Madrid are considering making "the most expensive goalkeeper in history."

Marca's Sergi Font has reported how Barca are worried about the future of 23-year-old German Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

During an interview conducted while on international duty, he recently made clear how he desires more game time in Spain's top flight, per Font: "Of course I want to be playing more. Things can still change between now and the summer. If the situation remains the way it is at the moment, however, then we're definitely going to have to talk—there's no avoiding that."

But as Font notes, finding more league minutes for Ter Stegen is a difficult needle to thread for Barcelona manager Luis Enrique. After all, normal first choice Claudio Bravo "has hardly put a hand wrong since joining the club."

Ter Stegen (L) hasn't been unable to unseat Bravo as Barca's first choice.
Ter Stegen (L) hasn't been unable to unseat Bravo as Barca's first choice.Manu Fernandez/Associated Press

Fortunately, last season's treble winners seems to have a solution, one dependent on taking Courtois away from Stamford Bridge:

One option Barca are considering is to loan Ter Stegen out for the foreseeable future, although they are also not ruling out selling him and signing a proven keeper in a similar mould as a replacement. Thibaut Courtois is one man the Camp Nou gurus have their beady eyes on. The Belgian shotstopper would welcome a switch away from Chelsea and back to La Liga and previously expressed an interest in moving to the 'Azulgranas' when they sounded him out two years ago.

But the Barca plan can be scuppered if their great rivals can tempt Courtois with more money. It's something Los Blancos are considering, according to Spanish source AS (h/t Alex Terrell of the Sun): "Money is no obstacle for the Spanish giants, with 100million Euros—£79m—being mooted as the asking price for the 23-year-old."

That's a fee that would make Courtois more expensive than Gianluigi Buffon, who fetched the world record fee for a 'keeper when he moved from Parma to Juventus in 2001. The aforementioned report also noted how Courtois prefers life in the Spanish capital to spending his time in London, no doubt due to his highly successful loan spell with Atletico Madrid.

Buffon is still the world's most expensive goalkeeper, but that could change if Courtois moves.
Buffon is still the world's most expensive goalkeeper, but that could change if Courtois moves.Grazia Neri/Getty Images

As Terrell puts it, Real president Florentino Perez may now see Courtois as an alternative to Manchester United's David De Gea, whom he failed to sign last summer. Whether Courtois would be as good as De Gea is a matter for some debate.

There seemed little question before this season started that the 23-year-old Belgian was at least on the same level as De Gea. But Chelsea's poor form in the Premier League, as well as injury woes, have damaged Courtois' standing.

Some of the club's fans even recently took to Twitter to wish for the return of previous No. 1 Petr Cech from capital city rivals Arsenal and lament Courtois' poor form, after a 1-1 home draw with Stoke Cityper Konstantinos Lianos of the Daily Star.

Courtois won't exactly have endeared himself to some Chelsea supporters after recently suggesting his future could lie away from Stamford Bridge following a dismal season, according to Belgian source RTBF (h/t Sky Sports' Peter Gilbert): "I do not say yes, I do not say no. I do not know: I still have three years on my contract. We must see what Chelsea want."

A return to Spain, where he played his best football, may suit Courtois best. So would the idea of playing for one of two clubs guaranteed to be in next season's UEFA Champions League and being among the main contenders to win the tournament.

Losing Courtois would be a blow for Chelsea, but far from a mortal one. Not when Asmir Begovic is a highly capable deputy.

Begovic is good enough to start for Chelsea.
Begovic is good enough to start for Chelsea.Alastair Grant/Associated Press

For the money being discussed, the Blues should seriously entertain the offers from La Liga's finest and use the fee to rebuild a squad needing upgrades in every outfield position.

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