Both are roughly the same age and both are considered their nation’s most promising young goalkeepers. But 20-year-old Thibaut Courtois and 19-year-old Jack Butland also share one other glaring similarity; Chelsea Football Club.
Courtois was signed by the club in 2011 after a superb campaign as a teenage goalkeeper for Racing Genk. Since then he has spent the entirety of his Chelsea career on loan at Spanish outfit Atletico Madrid as a replacement for the Manchester United bound David De Gea.
He has since gone on to become one of the most highly rated goalkeepers in La Liga regardless of his age and has been proclaimed the long-term successor to the throne of Petr Cech.
Jack Butland however has also caught the eye of the Chelsea hierarchy who saw the opportunity to bring in a talented young English stopper as too big an opportunity to pass up. So they enquired and awaited him to come running along for a medical and sign on the dotted line with giddy excitement. Unfortunately they misread the character of England’s number two goalkeeper and he refused a move to Stamford Bridge as he did not want to play second fiddle to Cech; or indeed Courtois on his return.
That enquiry may have sealed the coffin on Courtois’ Chelsea career; and in doing so Chelsea have shot themselves in the foot with a poor piece of transfer business.
First of all Chelsea did not need Butland with the exceptional Courtois in reserve. The deadline day deal for Butland seems a bizarre move considering the success Courtois is currently having out in Spain where he has even caused a new craze called ‘Thibauting’ (obviously in homage to American football star Tim Tebow) where fans picture themselves in a sprawled out diving position; emulating the fantastic type of save the Belgian has been making in the capital.
How do you think Courtois feels hearing the news that the club that has farmed him out on loan for his ‘development’ then go on to pursue a player in the same position and roughly the same age as himself?
Right now it seems only one club is really committed to giving Courtois the first-team football and future that he wants and that is Atletico Madrid; a fact that may come back to bite Chelsea in the next couple of years.
Do you think the pursuit of Butland undermined Courtois?
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