Thibaut Courtois is the future of Chelsea - Garth Crooks

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Football News

Former Tottenham striker-turned-BBC pundit Garth Crooks has hailed Thibaut Courtois as the "future of Chelsea".

The Belgian goalkeeper, who became Chelsea's No. 1 at the start of the season following three successful years on loan with Atletico Madrid, was named in Crook's Team of the Week - published on the BBC website - despite the fact Jose Mourinho's side only managed to draw 1-1 with Burnley at Stamford Bridge.

But Courtois, 22, still made a big impression on Crooks, who believes the world-class goalkeeper is on course to become a talismanic figure for the west London outfit.

Crooks hails Courtois

"The Belgium keeper didn't have to do a great deal against a Burnley side determined to get a point. But what he did produce was of the highest order - particularly the save low to his right from Ashley Barnes," Crooks wrote in his latest column. "I didn't have an awful lot of sympathy for Nemanja Matic's red card until Courtois gave an intelligent analysis of the incident in his post-match interview.

"His eloquent interpretation left me with the distinct impression that here was a young man with real leadership qualities. This lad is the future of Chelsea."

Courtois: World-class goalkeeper

Courtois comes across as a laid-back figure - fazed by very little on or off the pitch - and proved at Atletico Madrid that he is a man for the big occasions.

Without the 6ft 6in Belgian in between the sticks, Diego Simeone's side probably wouldn't have won their first La Liga title since 1996 or reached the Champions League final last season.

Atleti were desperate to keep Courtois at the Vicente Calderon for a fourth successive season, but Mourinho made the decision to bring him back to London to become Chelsea's new No. 1 ahead of Petr Cech.

Courtois has been outstanding for the Blues in his first season as a proper Chelsea player - he initially signed for the Premier League club in 2011 but was loaned to Atletico Madrid without making a single appearance for his new employers - and showcased his world-class talent during last week's 1-1 draw with PSG at the Parc des Princes.

Mourinho had dropped Courtois for the previous fixture against Everton following uncharacteristically nervy performances against Manchester City and Aston Villa - but the young Belgian repaid his manager's faith with a Man of the Match performance in the Champions League last 16 first leg.

Best in the world - and next Chelsea captain

Courtois doesn't turn 23 until May and it's scary to think how good he will become. It's no exaggeration to believe the Chelsea star could become the best goalkeeper of his generation.

No goalkeeper was better than Courtois over the course of 2014, including Manuel Neuer, whose nomination for the 2014 Ballon d'Or award was due to Germany winning the World Cup in Brazil.

Crooks is right to expect big things of the current best goalkeeper in the Premier League - and Mourinho should give some serious consideration to appointing him as the club's next permanent captain once John Terry finally leaves the Bridge.

Is Courtois the man to replace Terry as Chelsea's next captain? Is he the world's best goalkeeper? Have your say in the comments below!

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