Jose Mourinho described Chelsea’s first-choice goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois as “phenomenal” following his excellent display against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League on Tuesday night - which sums up the world-class Belgium international perfectly.
Courtois is a phenomenon. Still just 22 years of age it’s scary to think how good he could eventually become.
Manuel Neuer may have been nominated for the Ballon d’Or after helping Germany lift the World Cup in Brazil last summer, but over the course of 2014 no goalkeeper produced more outstanding displays than Chelsea’s current No. 1.
Courtois - 2014's best goalkeeper
Without Courtois, Atletico Madrid would not have won their first La Liga title since 1996 or reached the Champions League final last season.
Diego Costa may have taken the lion’s share of the plaudits thanks to his goalscoring exploits, but Courtois’ overall contribution was equally as vital. It was no surprise that Atletico were desperate to keep the young ‘keeper for a fourth successive season - or that the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona were reportedly keen to secure his services.
Despite Mourinho’s admiration and respect for Petr Cech, he knew that failure to demote the Czech Republic international to the Blues’ second-choice keeper in favour of Courtois would have left Chelsea at serious risk of losing one of the most talented young stars in world football.
Courtois is already the Premier League's best
Some claim Courtois has the potential to become the best goalkeeper not only in the Premier League, but also the world. However, the Chelsea star has shown over the past 24 months that he’s already there.
David de Gea has been outstanding for Manchester United this season, but the Spaniard - who is two years older than Courtois - lacks the same presence as the peerless Belgian, whose handling and command of his penalty area is also superior.
He's better than Manuel Neuer, too...
Neuer is widely regarded as the world’s best goalkeeper at this moment in time, but the Germany international captures the public’s imagination because of his unorthodox style - much like former Colombia international René Higuita used to - and this has subsequently led to an over-inflated reputation.
The 28-year-old is an incredible shot-stopper but takes far too many unnecessary risks. Pep Guardiola has clearly instructed the Bayern Munich ace to continue playing the role of sweeper-keeper, but some of the things he does on the football pitch border on the absurd.
Whether it’s charging 30 yards off his goal-line to make a diving-headed clearance or going in for a 50/50 challenge on the left wing, Neuer lacks the same reliability as Courtois. He makes more mistakes and will continue to make more errors over the coming months and years.
Courtois is the world's best goalkeeper
Courtois was a little shaky against Manchester City and Aston Villa, but it’s credit to his immense talent and professionalism that he was able to produce a Man of the Match performance against PSG - arguably Chelsea’s biggest match of the season so far - after being dropped to the bench for the Blues’ previous fixture against Everton.
When Courtois signed a new five-year contract with Chelsea in September, the Blues’ weren’t just tying down a great goalkeeper to a long-term deal - they were securing the services of the world’s best player in his position.
Is Courtois a better goalkeeper than both De Gea and Neuer? Tell us by leaving a comment in the box below.