As per a report from Matt Law of the Daily Telegraph, Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois has refused to return to London to begin pre-season training, as he attempts to force through a move to Spanish giants Real Madrid.
Now 26, Courtois joined Chelsea from Genk in 2011, before being immediately sent out on-loan to Atletico Madrid.
And 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.
And the 65-time capped international has since gone from strength-to-strength, solidifying himself as one of the first names on (former manager) 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 been identified as the ideal alternative, with Florentino Perez and co. huge fans of the 6ft 6in star’s talents.
In addition, Courtois himself has hinted on multiple occasions that he would be open to a move to the Bernabeu, with the Belgian’s two young children, Adriana and Nicolas, living with their mother, Courtois’ former partner Marta Dominguez, in Madrid.
As such, when a number of reports surfaced in France last month, claiming that Courtois’ move to the Spanish capital was as good as done, it was subsequently viewed as a near-inevitability that an official announcement would soon be made.
However, to this point, no such confirmation has been forthcoming, with an update from Sky Sports last week having revealed that talks between Chelsea and Real had hit a wall.
But, as per a further update from Marca this afternoon, negotiations are said to be firmly back on track, amid claims that a deal is now closer than ever to completion, after Courtois informed Blues’ boss Maurizio Sarri of his absolute intention to make a move to the Spanish capital before the English transfer window slams shut this Thursday (after which Chelsea could still sell Courtois, but would not be able to sign a replacement).
And, as per a further report courtesy of the reliable Matt Law of the Daily Telegraph this evening, Courtois, who was expected in London yesterday to watch Chelsea take on Manchester City in the Community Shield, has once again failed to report to the club’s training ground today.
Despite having been due to begin training alongside Gary Cahill, Eden Hazard, N’Golo Kante, Michy Batshuayi and Olivier Giroud at 4pm this afternoon, Courtois was AWOL, with the shot-stopper still in Belgium, as his attempts to force through a departure from Stamford Bridge kick up a notch:
— Matt Law (@Matt_Law_DT) August 6, 2018