Following the release of back-up goalkeepers Ross Turnbull and Henrique Hilario, there were rumours that Jose Mourinho might look to keep Belgian starlet Thibaut Courtois in London as second choice keeper behind Petr Cech.
However, it seems that short-term reliability has been sacrificed for long-term gain, and Courtois has been allowed to return to Atletico Madrid for the third season running. Courtois is seen as the long term successor to Petr Cech, and at 21 he has already impressed fans and managers across Europe with some incredible performances in Spain. He will be allowed to continue his development on loan for the 2013/14 season.
Courtois has been a resounding success at Atletico, and he has already won the Europa League, the UEFA Super Cup and the Copa Del Rey. This coming year will see him afforded the chance to play in the Champions League as he helped Atletico qualify for Europe’s premier competition for the first time in four years. It will give Courtois tremendous experience and bodes well for Chelsea in the coming years. Last season, Courtois earned the Zamora trophy in Spain as he conceded the fewest goals out of all the top keepers, letting in just 29 goals in 37 appearances, and the player himself is excited to return for one more year.
Speaking about the news, he said: “I am very happy because it was what I wanted. I have always said that I wanted to continue at Atletico next season and take part in such an important competition as the Champions League after we qualified for it in such a brilliant way. I am only thinking about continuing to enjoy the incredible support that we have and I hope we can continue to bring them a lot of happiness.”
While the decision is the right move for Chelsea long-term, it does mean that Mourinho has a decision to make over his goalkeeping options for the coming season. With Turnbull and Hilario released, the next in line to deputise for Cech should he become injured is Chelsea youth keeper Jamal Clint-Ross Blackman. Blackman has already featured on the bench for much of 2013, but it would be a huge risk to thrust him in to important games should Cech be unable to play. The question that Mourinho must answer is whether to trust the young inexperienced keeper or whether to buy a slightly more experienced keeper who is happy to sit on the bench for much of the season. The player himself is eager to prove himself, telling media recently: “I am well equipped to deputise for Cech following the release of Ross Turnbull and Henrique Hilario as I have learnt a lot. I was on the bench for most of the tough games in the FA Cup and the Europa League and I have understudied Cech so well. I will deliver when I am called.”
Much is likely to depend on how Blackman performs in training in the coming months, but it will be interesting to see whether he is given his chance or whether we buy a stop-gap keeper to see out the season.
Tell us, would you sign a new back-up keeper or would you place your faith in Blackman?