For the last two and a half seasons Chelsea have been quietly training up the perfect replacement for current number one Petr Cech.
After signing highly rated Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois on a five-year deal from Genk, the Stamford Bridge hierarchy pulled off a masterstroke. They got him loaned off to Atletico Madrid to play as Los Rojiblancos first-choice goalkeeper.
You couldn't make a better deal for player or either club. Courtois gets regular first-team football of a much higher standard then he would have gotten otherwise. Atletico Madrid get a great keeper between the sticks.
On top of this the two 'big' Spanish clubs Barcelona and Real Madrid both had quality goalkeepers who they were not going to look to replace. Real Madrid have Iker Casillas and Barcelona have Victor Valdes.
What a difference two and a half years make though.
Iker Casillas is no longer first choice and is looking to leave. Barcelona are now linked with signing at least two new goalkeepers Pepe Reina and one other. Meanwhile Chelsea's plan has almost worked too well.
So good have Courtois's performances been in winning the Europa League, helping break Atletico's Madrid derby curse in the Copa del Rey final, and being instrumental in their surprise title challenge that he is probably the best goalkeeper in La Liga.
Should he not be playing regularly for Chelsea?
Suddenly, Chelsea look like they are struggling to keep Courtois. They are in danger of being hoist by their own petard. Both Real and Barcelona would quite like to make the Belgium their number one goalkeeper right now. There is no need for Courtois to wait for Cech to leave
Fortunately, reports in the media suggest that Barcelona have turned their attentions to German Ace Marc-Andre ter Stegen whose Gladbach contract expires this summer. The Blues now just have to deter Real Madrid.
Chelsea must be wishing they had spread Courtois's loans about more now.
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