Cech or Courtois? Chelsea finally must decide in summer
Thibaut Courtois has been a Chelsea-owned player for the last three seasons since joining from Genk, but has spent all of that time on-loan at La Liga side Atletico Madrid.
During his stay in the Spanish capital, the Belgian shot-stopper has more than filled the gap vacated by David de Gea, and this season helped inspire his temporary side to first place – three points ahead of giants Barcelona and Real Madrid with just 16 games to go.
Back in England, Chelsea are having a fairly successful season so far themselves, and are now just two points off Premier League leaders Arsenal following the crucial victory over Manchester City.
The Blues have very enticing odds of 2/1 to reclaim the title they last won in 2010 under Carlo Ancelotti.
Petr Cech is part of the furniture at Stamford Bridge, after replacing Carlo Cudicini between the sticks a decade ago, but Jose Mourinho will have an almost impossible decision to make at the end of the season, having two of Europe’s best goalkeepers at his disposal.
The Czech international centurion has been in top form this season helping his side stay firmly in the race for one of the most competitive battles to win the league title in recent years, and recently overtook Peter Bonetti as Chelsea’s all time clean sheets holder.
The record to beat was 208 and Cech is now currently on 212.
With Cech in goal, Chelsea went through the most successful period in their history, winning silverware such as three Premier League titles, four FA Cups and of course the much-awaited Champions League.
Courtois certainly has the age advantage, being just 21, and Mourinho would be foolish to let a goalkeeper go who not only is Belgium’s number one, ahead of the more experienced Simon Mignolet, but someone who could potentially be at the top of the game for the next 15 years.
However, despite Cech being 10 years older than his Belgian counterpart, 31 is still very much average-age for a keeper, and would Mourinho risk losing one of Chelsea’s most consistent and loyal servants for a youngster with no Premier League experience?
Mourinho gave the simple answer of “no” last week in a press conference when asked if Courtois will stay in Madrid. So is there the chance of a rotation of keepers, similar to when Manchester United used De Gea and Anders Lindegaard last season and the year before?
It seems, however, that Courtois’ father, Thierry, is against the idea of having both keepers at the same club, being quoted in The Sun as saying: “Mourinho has told Thibaut that he’s expecting him back in the summer. Petr Cech is in place at the moment. On paper you could alternate them, but it’s not the type of situation we are looking for.”
He added: “With the level Thibaut is at now, there is no way he will go to a club and be second choice.”
Perhaps the only option is to tie Courtois down with a new contract, send him out on-loan for a couple more seasons and then bring him back again when Cech is past his peak.
A risky decision if made, and one that the Courtois party may be unimpressed with, but the idea will quite rightly honour club legend Cech, as well as having an immediate world-class keeper as backup.