Courtois set for Chelsea return as Atletico Madrid eye new goalkeeper
Chelsea transfer news: Thibaut Courtois set to leave Atletico Madrid at the end of the season
Atletico Madrid have given the clearest indication yet that loanee goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois will return to Chelsea at the end of the season, after AC Milan's veteran stopper Christian Abbiati emerged on the Spanish club's summer radar.
According to Italian website tuttomercatoweb, Los Rojiblancos have already put a proposal to the 35-year-old, who will be out of contract at the end of the season, after 15 years with the Serie 'A' giants.
Abbiati enjoyed a season-long loan spell at the Vicente Calderon Stadium in 2007/08, making 30 appearances for Atletico Madrid, and is now set to be invited back for a second spell in La Liga.
Diego Simeone's interest in the Italian goalkeeper signals that Chelsea loanee Courtois will not stay in Spain for a third consecutive season, and will instead return to Stamford Bridge to challenge Petr Cech for the number one spot.
The Belgian international previously stated his desire to continue plying his trade away from west London, while he is not guaranteed regular first-team football.
In a recent interview, Courtois stated his belief that he would not be able to oust Cech for another two years, pinpointing 2015 as the right time for him to succeed the 30-year-old - who is under contract until 2016 - as Chelsea's undisputed first-choice custodian.
The 20-year-old has developed quicker than was initially expected during his time at Atletico Madrid, after signing for Chelsea from Racing Genk in his homeland in 2011, and has since established himself as one of the most highly rated young goalkeepers in Europe.
"Cech is one of the best goalkeepers in the world, and I think I am an up and coming young talent with the quality maybe also to play for Chelsea," Courtois told the London Evening Standard. "They will continue with Cech for two more years, I believe.
"The problem is I think that Chelsea didn’t expect me to be at this level this soon. I’ve developed really quickly. It’s a very good situation for Chelsea."