Football

Chelsea risk losing European starlet

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In order to keep one of Europe's best young talents at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho will need to make one of the most difficult decisions of his managerial career next summer.

The Portuguese coach was forced to make a similar choice on his return to west London back in June, when he opted to stick with current first-choice goalkeeper Petr Cech and allowed Thibault Courtois to spend a third full season on loan at Atletico Madrid.

But with Courtois reportedly stalling on agreeing a contract extension with the Blues, Mourinho will need to bring the Belgium international to Stamford Bridge next season and use him as his number one goalkeeper in order to avoid losing him.

Courtois, 21, has performed magnificently at the Vicente Calderon under current Atleti coach Diego Simeone.

And Mourinho doesn't need a scout to tell him that - he saw it for himself while managing Real Madrid.

Indeed, in last season's Copa del Rey final - what proved to be Mourinho's last final in charge of the nine-time European champions - Courtois' stunning display was a huge reason why Atletico recorded a long overdue win against their more fashionable neighbours to lift the coveted trophy.

All the more surprising, then, why Mourinho rejected the chance to stick the gifted Courtois in his ranks for the 2013/14 Premier League campaign.

The Portuguese may feel loyalty to Cech, who is still a fantastic goalkeeper at the age of 31, but pushing Courtois away from the club could prove catastrophic in the long run.

Finding a world-class goalkeeper is no easy feat - just ask the likes of Arsene Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson - and Courtois is close to that category of goalkeeper already, at the tender age of 21.

The 6ft 6in shot-stopper is a fully-fledged Belgium international, ultra-reliable, commanding and not prone to lapses in concentration unlike many goalkeepers his age.

It's no surprise that Real Madrid are interested in Courtois - they are unlikely to be the only European giant keen to secure his services - and the young goalkeeper will surely be tempted to make a big-money move if Chelsea continue to stick with Cech.

But if Mourinho makes the difficult decision to select Courtois ahead of Cech from the start of next season, Chelsea will benefit in the long run.

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Topics:
Petr Cech
Football
Chelsea
Premier League

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