According to a strange story in the Daily Mail, Chelsea head honchos fear the sale of first-choice goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, widely recognised as one of the world’s finest in his discipline, will backfire.
The cause of their trepidation is not the fact that he’s their best keeper by a long way and sourcing a replacement of a similar stature will be nigh on impossible without the lure Champions League football, but that Courtois’ countrymen Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne, who the Blues relinquished two terms ago, are thriving elsewhere.
As if that wasn’t confusing enough, the same article alleges Chelsea are actually thinking about selling the Belgium superstar as part of a plan to fill Antonio Conte’s transfer war chest for the summer.
Their strategy, the Daily Mail will have us believe, is to make the team significantly weaker as part of a short-term plan to return to Premier League title contention. And they would execute this Scooby Doo-villain-inspired scheme were it not for the possibility he’d do well elsewhere.
Chelsea fans concerned by this logic, warped like a fish in a plutonium-tainted pond as it may be, will be asking why did it not apply when the decision not to renew John Terry’s contract was taken?
If Courtois were to leave this summer, the Blues would likely be compensated with an amount of millions never previously paid for a goalkeeper. When Terry departs, they won’t receive a penny.
Despite his advancing years, the Chelsea skipper remains one of the game’s finest centre-backs and, even if his ability were in alarming decline, his presence in the dressing room and on the training field, where he could help sharpen the skills of his successors, render him worthy of a contract extension.
Terry may have stated he won’t join a Premier League rival when he does walk away from Stamford Bridge, but Courtois wouldn’t have been sold to a direct competitor either, yet gripes about him flourishing on foreign shores still exist.
Semi-retirement homes in Middle East, China and the USA have all been mentioned as potential destinations for Terry, but his talents could still command a starting place at many of Europe’s elite outfits.
His successful suitor’s backline will be marshalled by one of the most proficient in the business for a couple of seasons, while their future stars will be exposed to some invaluable years tutelage from one of the best, enhancing the ability of dozens of potential long-term Chelsea opponents down the line.
Clearly, the risk of a summer departure backfiring on the Blues is high, but Courtois isn’t their biggest concern.
The Belgian and Terry are likely to start when Chelsea face Manchester City this weekend, where they’re 12/5 to keep a clean sheet.