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Real Madrid courting Chelsea keeper Thibaut Courtois?

Real Madrid have supposedly set their sights on Chelsea stopper Thibaut Courtois, with reports suggesting that the Spanish giants are now considering the highly-rated custodian as an alternative to Manchester United’s David de Gea.

Los Blancos, 11/4 with Coral to retain the Champions League, are believed to be searching for a new recruit to replace iconic keeper and captain Iker Casillas, who has become somewhat of a scapegoat for Real’s shocking 4-0 derby defeat to Atleti last time out.

The Spain skipper’ spot in the starting XI has been under threat since Jose Mourinho was Bernabeu boss and, following a disastrous World Cup, occasional blunders have seen Casillas fall out of favour with fans.

Current Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti has stuck by the 33-year-old keeper, with both Costa Rica custodian Keylor Navas and now AC Milan man Diego Lopez failing to usurp him.

Should Los Blancos lure one of their rumoured top target to the Spanish capital, however, it is believed the club would now be willing to part ways with the Castilla academy product.

Chelsea would likely resist any raid for Courtois, who has taken the number one spot from Petr Cech at Stamford Bridge and is already regarded as one of the most talented goalkeeper’s in the game.

Belgium international Courtois is still only 22, but has already enjoyed 18 caps for his country, who he represented in Brazil at the World Cup and, due to the scarcity of top class stoppers, would potentially command an eye-watering fee.

The Blues snapped up talented Courtois, who hails from a family of professional volleyball players, from Belgian side Genk back in 2011, but the youngster has made just 26 outings for the Premier League leaders so far.

Courtois spent three seasons on loan developing with Real’s capital rivals Atleti, as a replacement for departed De Gea, and has already more than proven his credentials in Spain.

Atletico lifted La Liga during Courtois’ last campaign with the club, with the young goalie an integral part of Diego Simeone’s successful side, so Los Blancos would no doubt enjoy snaring one of their local foes’ heroes.

With the Blues keen to enjoy a smooth transition between top keepers Cech and Courtois it would be surprising for crafty coach Mourinho to consider cashing in on Courtois. However, Real may hold an ace up their sleeve in Raphael Varane.

The France centre back was a favourite of Mourinho’s during his time at the Bernabeu, and it is believed that the Stamford Bridge boss would like to be reunited with his former charge in London.

Reports suggest Real would offer the 21-year-old defender as part of any deal, which could tempt transfer-savvy Chelsea into negotiations.

The Blues (7/1 to win the Champions League) will have to replace ageing skipper John Terry sooner rather than later, and the prospect of pairing top talent Varane with fellow Frenchman Kurt Zouma would surely be tempting enough for the ‘Special One’ to consider.