Having admitted that he may leave Chelsea in the summer, should Goalkeeper Thibault Courtois decide to move on for pastures new it will leave the west Londoners with a rather large shirt to fill – literally and figuratively.
The likely re-jigging and overhaul of personnel at Stamford Bridge will be team-wide of course, but a good ‘keeper is a must. Courtois was picked over the now departed Petr Cech by Jose Mourinho at the start of last season, and certainly played his part in the sides Premier League triumph.
But this season the giant Belgian has struggled to recreate that form, along with the side as a whole. From a red-card in the first game of the season against Swansea, to the unfortunate knee-injury that kept him out for three months, this campaign has been an indifferent one for the giant shot-stopper. His showings since his return have also been far from the level displayed during his first season with Chelsea, or those shown during his loan at Atletico Madrid.
If he does decide he wants a move away from the club, and Chelsea receive a good enough offer, it is entirely possible he will go. And with that in mind, here are FIVE possible replacements for the 23 year-old
One of the most promising young ‘keepers in Europe, Bayer Leverkusen’s Bernd Leno has already attracted admiring glances from the likes of Real Madrid and Liverpool. Great reflexes and shot-stopping ability mark him out as one to watch, but the Blues are likely to face competition for his signature should they require his services.
Backup to Tottenham’s Hugo Lloris for the French national side, Saint-Etienne shot-stopper Ruffier would almost certainly be first choice if it wasn’t for the ability and form of his compatriot. Although not a ‘big-name’ by any stretch of the imagination, he is certainly a long shot but, likewise, wouldn’t cost the club a great deal of money.
If, as reported, Marc-Andre ter Stegen is bought to Manchester City by incoming manager ‘Pep’ Guardiola, it could call into question the current England No.1’s position at the Etihad. With a possible ‘Goalkeeping merry-go-round’ on the cards throughout Europe this summer, Chelsea would surely jump at the chance to sign Hart if available.
Another talented English ‘keeper, Butland’s performances for Stoke City this season have seen him rise to prominence as one of the best around in the Premier League, also earning him a call-up to the national side. An excellent shot-stopper and extremely agile, he is unlikely to be sold under any circumstances by the Potters, especially as they have previously sold their Asmir Begovic, to the west London side.
And lastly, Genoa ‘keeper Mattia Perin represents one of the best and most exciting options ‘between the sticks’ currently playing in Europe. Just 23, the Genoa man is likely the long-term successor to Gianluigi Buffon for the Azzurri and will be well known by probable incoming Chelsea boss, Antonio Conte. Scouted by Man United and previously linked with Liverpool, the youngster represents a slight-gamble perhaps, but could be a worthwhile one.