Very few teams have the certainty of having their goal so safely guarded for the next few seasons as Chelsea do. While Petr Cech secures the reigning European Champions’ goal, his future replacement Thibaut Courtois makes giant strides in his second season at Atletico Madrid.
Such has been his rapid progress this year that the Premier League club have put a £20million price tag on the Belgian star in order to keep potential suitors away. But can that transition be done at the right time for Cech, Courtois and Chelsea?
The main problem Chelsea have is when to execute that changeover. Courtois is happy at Atletico, will play Champions League football next season if he stays, as well as guarantee being Belgium first-choice ahead of the World Cup 2014 in Brazil. Chelsea have the goalkeeper tied up until 2016 but the question is how many more seasons would he agree to be loaned, as his level of performance shows that being simply Cech’s replacement is not an option nowadays.
The Czech keeper’s current deal finishes in 2016 and despite turning 31 at the end of the season, he’s still in great form and plans of retirement sound premature. With his experience in holding that number one jersey, no one should be shocked if Cech maintained a top level for another four, five or six years. The Chelsea hierarchy, however, should be asking themselves what the plan of action will be if in one or two seasons Courtois is not willing to wait any longer to finally play with his club, but Cech is still in decent shape.
Having both of them in the same squad sounds like a waste of talent. The option, then, would be selling one of them, be it Courtois at the end of this season – if anyone is willing to match the price tag – or trying to get Cech to sign a bumper deal with another club in a season or two.
As much of a bad choice it may seem in selling Courtois, it could be an ideal moment for it. The 20-year-old is likely to win the Zamora trophy (the least amount of goals conceded in La Liga) this season and top clubs in Europe have him on their radar, aware of Chelsea situation. If the Blues cash him in now, they will have still a few seasons to find a successor for Cech, and £20million in their pockets.
If Chelsea opt for this option, Atletico de Madrid should be his destiny, using the Belgian as a bargaining chip to sign striker Radamel Falcao, known to be on Abramovich’s wishlist. The Colchoneros are more than pleased with Courtois performances, who has become an idol for the fans, and at the Calderon Stadium it is known that Falcao’s exit is just a matter of time. Therefore, sealing their goal by signing Courtois could ease the pain of seeing the Colombian hitman go.
Chelsea, therefore, should make a decision soon. Being too ambitious trying to keep both players as much as possible, or simply procrastinating, implies the risk of having to sell off cheaply one of the two in the near future, or having to make the transition at the wrong time.
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