EXCLUSIVE: Chelsea rising star Courtois set to be offered long-term deal by Atletico
00:12 GMT, 5 February 2013
10:07 GMT, 5 February 2013
Chelsea are facing a battle to hang on to Thibaut Courtois after Atletico Madrid made it clear they want him for at least another season and are ready to offer him a permanent move to the Vicente Calderon in the summer.
After snapping him up from Genk as a little- known teenager 18 months ago, Chelsea have been presented with a dilemma by on-loan Courtois’ rapid development into a cult figure at Atletico, where fans have done tribute videos on the internet and started a new craze – Thibauting – imitating the keeper's diving saves.
Sportsmail can reveal that anxious Stamford Bridge bosses despatched goalkeeping coach Christophe Lollichon to Madrid over the weekend to monitor his form against Real Betis and talk over his future plans.
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Impressive: Thibaut Courtois has turned a few heads at Atletico
Though reluctant to return to London in an understudy capacity, it is understood the 20-year-old has
been assured Chelsea see him as long-term successor to Petr Cech.
Despite being linked recently with Jack Butland and Asmir Begovic, they
have outlined an intention to instal him, eventually, as first-choice
and bring in a new No 2.
Atletico have dismissed suggestions
they are prepared to include Chelsea target Radamel Falcao in a
part-exchange deal for Courtois but have stressed they want him on loan
for another year and may well bid for him at the end of the season.
As they weigh up their next move, the English club may consider opening talks over a new improved contract.
Courtois signed a five-year deal in July, 2011 on relatively modest
terms and feels they should now be amended to reflect his progress in
Full length: Courtois's acrobatics have inspired a new craze in Madrid – Thibaulting – where fans imitate his diving saves
It is a delicate balancing act for
Stamford Bridge chiefs, as confirmed by Courtois’ father Thierry, who
said: ‘It is very rare to see any team with two top international
keepers on their books but that is the case with Chelsea.
‘They have two world-class keepers,
and it is probably fair to say Thibaut has developed into a No 1
more quickly than anyone could have expected. He is a great keeper for
Spanish football, because he has adapted to the style of play over there
and has the height to command his area.’
Lollichon returned from Madrid with a
positive evaluation of Courtois’ form and fitness but was left in little
doubt that, after 18 months as Atletico’s first choice, the Belgium No 1 is in no mood to sit on the bench at Stamford Bridge.
VIDEO: Atletico fans' tribute to Courtois