To round up the 2012-13 youth football season at Chelsea, we’re reviewing every single one of the Chelsea youngsters currently on the books who have spent time out on loan during the campaign. Here, we focus on Thibaut Courtois.
Club: Atlético Madrid (Spain)
There is no Chelsea loanee more capable of coming in and playing for the club at an elite level off the bat than Thibaut. He is already one of the world’s elite goalkeepers and if he was to move to the Premier League right now, would arguably a top three player at his position.
His problem, of course, is that Petr Cech is probably the best in the league, maybe the world, and shows no signs of his exceptionally high standards dropping. He gets better with age and experience and twelve months on from legendary heroics in Munich, he is arguably the club’s most important player, having earned and/or saved numerous points in the season just finished.
Courtois knows his time will come, and sees no urgency in forcing a move. What he is in a rush to do, however, is make an impact. A Europa League winner in his debut campaign in Madrid, he put his name in the record books twice in 2012-13, firstly by breaking a twenty-year record for most consecutive minutes without conceding a league goal at home, and then doing the same for the away record. He picked up the UEFA Super Cup crown early in the season, and was incredible in Atléti’s first domestic cup win in seventeen years with two world-class saves in the final against Real Madrid.
His twenty league clean sheets (23 in all competitions) in a campaign is also a club record and there’s never a moment where he looks flustered or error-prone. Put a ball in the air anywhere remotely near him and he comes to deal with it supremely, using his comically large wingspan to full advantage. He’s the best goalkeeper in Spain and has attracted attention from Barcelona, but Chelsea know what they’ve got on their hands and have no intention of selling him.
Indeed, you can expect a new contract for Thibaut this summer, tying him down for the long term and allowing him to play for Atlético again next season. They’ll be in the Champions League, news which allows the custodian to excel on the biggest club stage ahead of the World Cup in Brazil, where he is likely to be first choice for a Belgium team on track to qualify.
Chelsea are playing the long game with Courtois, and whilst there’ll come a day where they have a decision to make, there’s no need to force anything right now. We can just sit back and enjoy two world-class goalkeepers owned by club safe in the knowledge that the position is set for the next fifteen years or more.