Chelsea’s summer transfer window could have ended in disaster had Thibaut Courtois’ move to Real Madrid been handled differently.
The writing was on the wall after the Belgium international failed to report back for pre-season training amid speculation he had informed the club he wanted to be reunited with his family in the Spanish capital.
Last Wednesday, Courtois’ transfer to Los Blancos was confirmed just 24 hours before the closure of the summer transfer window.
Chelsea acted with haste, and on the same day announced the £71 million signing of Kepa Arrizabalaga from Athletic Bilbao.
The most expensive goalkeeper in history made his debut in the Blues’ Premier League opener against Huddersfield on Saturday, providing an assured performance.
While keeping a clean sheet in the 3-0 win at Kirklees Stadium must have done wonders for Kepa’s confidence, receiving the public backing of one of his defensive colleagues is sure to provide an additional boost.
“He did well,” Antonio Rudiger said of the shot-stopper, per the Metro.
“He tried to speak as much as he could. It was good, we have a good understanding and he is a quality player.
“He did well with [communication]. When we needed to help him, we helped him.
“Today in general for us was a very good day. We all know Thibaut’s [Courtois] quality, but Thibaut is no longer a Chelsea player.
“I wish him good luck at Real Madrid but now we have to concentrate on Kepa because he is our goalkeeper.
“In his work he is very confident and off the pitch he is a quiet guy.”
There is little doubt Chelsea have made the best of an awkward situation in replacing their first-choice between the sticks.
However, it seems Kepa was not at the top of their shopping list after learning they would be without Courtois this season.
CHELSEA'S €100M ALTERNATIVE
The Times claims Chelsea tabled a €100 million (£89.4 million) bid to buy Jan Oblak out of his contract at Atletico Madrid, only for the Slovenian to reject their advances in favour of staying put.
In response, his grateful employers are understood to be preparing a new deal for the 25-year-old, offering an improved salary and a new release clause of €250 million.
Atletico deserve applause for their capacity to hang on to their key players this summer, having also fended off Barcelona and Manchester United in their respective pursuits of Antoine Griezmann and Diego Godin.
That said, a handsome pay rise will usually do the trick.