For many players, the World Cup is an opportunity to prove their worth to potential employers. They can take the biggest stage in world football as their interview platform to demonstrate their talent and illustrate just what they can deliver. For Thibaut Courtois, the young Belgian goalkeeper on Chelsea’s books, but having just completed his third season on loan at Atletico Madrid, however that may not be necessary.
There has been much speculation over the last few months that Chelsea boss, Jose Mourinho will be forced to choose between Courtois, and Stamford Bridge mainstay Petr Cech for the coming season. Should he stick with the reliable and dependable, but aging Cech, or instead take the plunge and decide that now, at 22 with three years’ experience of La Liga behind him, the time is ripe for Courtois. It may just be however, that the decision has already been made.
Cech has been at Chelsea for a decade and in that time has probably become the outstanding goalkeeper in the Premier League. Ditching him therefore does seem somewhat counterintuitive. Although 32 years old now, that it hardly the veteran stage for a ‘keeper, and the Czech international has shown no signs of slowing reflexes or diminishing agility.
What may be swinging the balance in Mourinho’s mind however is that, for a goalkeeper, the dislocated shoulder injury that Cech suffered, ironically against Courtois’ Atletico Madrid team at the tail-end of last season, may be a problem that could recur. A fully fit and firing Cech is a tremendous asset to any club fighting for honours at the highest level. A goalkeeper with a suspect shoulder injury however, may be considered a liability.
Courtois has had his customary outstanding season in Spain, but his career there may now have reached a zenith with Diego Simeone’s unfavoured club securing the league title and finishing as runners- up in the Champions League final against their city rivals from the Bernabeu. Atleti’s squad is already been picked apart by Europe’s biggest clubs as they cherry-pick the best players from the Vicente Calderon. That may not be an issue for the young Belgian however.
What indications there are emanating from the inner sanctum at Stamford Bridge, suggest that Courtois will be brought back to west London for next season and installed as the club’s number one goalkeeper. The dilemma will then be what to do with Cech. It’s unlikely that a player so used to first team football will be content with the lonliest role in football – that of being a back-up ‘keeper. Always required to be on the bench in case of need, but never getting onto the pitch must be a soul-destroying experience for a player surely capable of walking into the vast majority of Premier League teams.
The solution may be to sell Cech, but surely Chelsea would only consider a foreign club as a possibility. Allowing a player of his ability to join a rival would be a folly, and one that the club would surely come to regret. Of course, they could always loan him out. There may well be a gap at Atletico!
For more from All Blue Daze:
Sport Lobster: http://sportlobster.com/fan/all-blue-daze