Thibaut Courtois Says Atletico Madrid Are More Important to Him Than Chelsea

Nick Akerman@NakermanFeatured ColumnistNovember 1, 2013

BARCELONA, SPAIN - OCTOBER 19: Thibaut Courtois of Atletico de Madrid in action during the La Liga match between RCD Espanyol and Club Atletico de Madrid at Cornella-El Prat Stadium on October 19, 2013 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
David Ramos/Getty Images

Thibaut Courtois has risked the wrath of Chelsea by claiming Atletico Madrid hold greater importance for the 21-year-old.

The young goalkeeper—who recently returned to Atleti for a third successive loan spell from the Blues—has obviously grown fond of life at the Vicente Calderon, per Nick Lustig of the Daily Star:

I looked forward to playing in the Champions League with Atletico and wanted to be a startman before the World Cup.

But now everything depends on Chelsea. I had a conversation with Mourinho and decided it was best to stay here.

I belong to Chelsea, but Atletico is the most important club in my life. I have received titles and prestige in a short time.

Courtois has played a major role in the Spanish club’s continued run of success.

Atletico finished third in last year’s La Liga, and with Courtois between the sticks, triumphed over city rivals Real Madrid to land the Copa Del Rey.

This season, prospects look just as good for Diego Simeone’s men. Los Rojiblancos are second in the domestic league and have lost just one game in 11. Courtois has conceded nine goals during that time, per WhoScored, including five clean sheets.

Most impressively, he made five saves in the recent 1-0 away win over Real, halting shots from Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, Alvaro Morata and Gareth Bale in the process, as detailed by WhoScored.

MADRID, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 28: Alvaro Morata of Real Madrid CF strikes the ball past goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois of Atletico de Madrid during the La Liga match between Real Madrid CF and Club Atletico de Madrid at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on September 28,
Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Courtois has long been expected to take over from Petr Cech at Stamford Bridge, but his recent comments could alter a future that looked set in stone since Chelsea snapped him up in 2011.

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Simeone may be alerted and could use such occurrences as fuel to fund a permanent move for the player.

As noted in Lustig’s report, Barcelona are also looking to capture Courtois as a long-term replacement for Victor Valdes, who is set to leave Camp Nou at the end of the season, per Sky Sports.

While Borussia Monchengladbach's Marc-Andre Ter Stegen has also reportedly captured the interest of the Catalan club, per Sky Sports, Gerardo Martino may be tempted to plump for someone who has La Liga experience.

Courtois obviously craves opportunities and success at this early stage in this career.

Cech has plenty of years left in him at the age of 31, ensuring the Belgian may be better off elsewhere if he wishes to settle into a permanent first-team slot.

Mourinho would be unwise to sell one of the world's best young goalkeepers, but he is unlikely to drop Cech, who has been Chelsea's No. 1 since arriving in the 2004-05 season.