We all knew it was going to happen. It was only a matter of time until Thibaut Courtois got what we wanted, and tonight he got it.
Courtois has been linked to Real Madrid all summer, helped after a fantastic World Cup in which he won the coveted Golden Glove award for his performances in between the sticks for Belgium. Chelsea and Real Madrid have now reached an agreement, with just personal terms and a medical left to complete before Thibaut Courtois is officially unveiled as a Madridista on Thursday at about 12:00 BST.
The 26 year-old leaves Chelsea after seven years and four seasons as the Blues’ number one. In his time at Stamford Bridge he won two Premier League titles, a League Cup and an FA Cup, as well the Premier League Golden Glove in his second title-winning season in 2016/17. He was well respected in England and was regarded as one of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League.
It is a sour end to a trophy-laden career in London for the Belgian, although that is the case all because of his own work. Courtois didn’t even show up to training for two straight days, evidently trying to force his dream move to Real Madrid. The truth is that no one knew for sure where he was, not even Chelsea coach Maurizio Sarri.
As a player, I really liked him. He was a key part of our squad, and has been crucial in recent years. He is a fantastic goalkeeper, and a worthy successor of Chelsea’s number one spot from club legend Petr Čech. However, I have lost a great deal of respect for him. I accept that he wanted to move on, that’s just apart of football. However, to not show up for training and breach his contract is unacceptable and disgraceful. He was loved by the Stamford Bridge faithful, but he now leaves as a villain, one who betrayed and disrespected our club. It is even sourer when you remember how much we did for him as a player.
Although Chelsea have lost a very talented goalkeeper, there is some consolation. As part of the deal, Real Madrid are giving over Croatian international Mateo Kovačić in a season-long loan deal. In addition to this, the Blues have just signed Thibaut’s replacement; Kepa Arrizabalaga. The 23 year-old Spanish goalkeeper joins Chelsea from Athletic Bilbao, and has signed a seven year contract for a goalkeeper world record fee of £71 million. This surpasses the record fee for a goalkeeper by £4.2 million, which was set less than three weeks earlier by Liverpool’s signing of Brazilian Alisson Becker from Roma.
Courtois has many years ahead of him, and he will surely continue to thrive. However, he has lost a lot of respect and appreciation, and however good he may be as a footballer, he will never be forgiven for how he ended his Chelsea career.