When Thibaut Courtois was signed to Chelsea in 2011, he was a very young and promising talent. The only reason he didn’t immediately make it into the then Andre Villas Boas team was because of his age. At that time, he was only 19, and couldn’t replace a Petr Cech who was in his prime. But he had promise, and was a man for the future. Courtois was loaned to Spanish giants, Atletico Madrid, and he stayed there between 2011 and 2014. He slotted into the first team seamlessly, and became their first choice goalkeeper.
After a very fruitful stay in Spain, Courtois returned to Chelsea in 2014 at the request of José Mourinho as the first team goalkeeper. He replaced Cech, and went on to impress for us in that season.
A few more seasons have passed, and it appears the man has lost his touch of excellence. He has conceded more goals than he did in his first season and the Belgian has looked ordinary at times, and it is something to be worried about. Some think it is perhaps because our defence has to exactly been great either, while others think it may be a deliberate attempt to frustrate Chelsea into offloading him.
For a long time, rumors have suggested the Belgian shot stopper has had his mind in Spain, and favours a move back to Madrid where his family is. He has never openly stated his desire to leave, but if an interview he granted not too long ago is anything to go by, his ‘heart is in Spain’.
As much as I like the man, and would like him to stay, I really think his current form is appalling, and bad for his once impressive reputation. Everyone hits a poor run of form at some point in their career, but some declines are louder and more alarming than others.
By December last year, Courtois already took in 100 goals in 107 appearances for Chelsea; the same tally it took Cech 172 games to take in.
One can argue that Cech played under the best defence in the EPL for years, but even then, the number is enormous. Defenders are important in a team, but the goalie is the last resort, and is expected to act when called upon.
I can’t imagine where Manchester United would be if they didn’t have David Da Gea. Even with their disjointed defence, Da Gea has made more saves than our goalie.
In the big games, big teams need their big players to oerform, including the goalkeeper, and Courtois let the team down against Barca tonight. He was easily beaten by Lionel Messi at his near post just three minute into the game, and was beaten by the same player underneath his legs again for Messi’s second goal.
Chelsea were brilliant against Barca, and had the team been backed by a good goalkeeper, it would have made Chelsea’s job easier.
Courtois has had his mind at Madrid for a long time now, but it’s time for the big Belgian to look at himself and produce the kind of form that made him replace Petr Cech as Chelsea’s number one.