As per a report from Matt Law of the Telegraph this afternoon, Premier League champions Chelsea will push forward contract negotiations with goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, amid fears that the Belgian is ready to run down his current deal with the club.
Now 25, Courtois joined Chelsea from Genk in 2011, before being immediately sent out on-loan to Atletico Madrid.
It was in the Spanish capital that all of Europe began to take notice of his immense potential, as Courtois solidifed himself as the club’s first-choice shotstopper despite his tender years, before going on to make 111 La Liga appearances during his three-year stint with Los Colchoneros.
Courtois returned to Stamford Bridge in 2014 as one of the most highly-regarded goalkeepers in world football, quickly usurping Petr Cech as the Blues’ no.1 option between the posts.
The 53-time capped international has since gone from strength-to-strength, solidifying himself as one of the first names on Antonio Conte’s team-sheet in the English capital.
La Liga return?
However, despite his successes at Chelsea, rumours linking Courtois with a return to Spain have never fully died down, with Atletico’s fierce rivals Real Madrid having long been reported to hold an interest in the Belgian.
Though it is common knowledge that Los Blancos’ first-choice signing would be Manchester United’s David De Gea, Courtois has reportedly been identified as the ideal alternative, with Zinedine Zidane and co. huge fans of the 6ft 6in star’s talents.
As such, news breaking earlier this week that Courtois, who’s current deal at Stamford Bridge is set to expire in the summer of 2019, had put contract talks with the club on hold until the end of the season, came as a worrying update for fans of the Blues.
‘We have so many games at the moment, and I prefer to focus on the team’s games, my own performances,’ Courtois explained.
‘There will be time enough towards the end of the season to have talks.’
Forcing the issue
However, as per the aforementioned report from Matt Law, the board at Stamford Bridge are not prepared to wait until the season’s close to open negotiations with their shot-stopper, amid genuine fears that the Belgian may be attempting to run down his contract with the club.
The Blues will seek talks with Courtois’ representatives over the coming months in a bid to tie their no.1 down to a long-term deal, though Stoke City’s Jack Butland is reportedly already being considered as a potential replacement, if Courtois does in fact decide to depart.