Chelsea in race against time to sell Thibaut Courtois

Chelsea in race against time to sell Thibaut Courtois
Thibaut Courtois has become one of the world's best keepers during his time as Chelsea's No. 1.
Updated 09 June 2018

Chelsea in race against time to sell Thibaut Courtois

Chelsea in race against time to sell Thibaut Courtois
  • Blues keeper keen on move away from Stamford Bridge.
  • Belgian star would leave on a free next summer if he stays at Chelsea.

Chelsea face the prospect of losing Thibaut Courtois on a free transfer in a year’s time if they do not sell the Belgium international this summer. Arab News understands that Courtois has rejected the offer of a new contract that would have made him the best paid goalkeeper in the English Premier League, telling friends that he wants to leave Chelsea in the current transfer window if possible.
    Ideally, Courtois would like a move to Madrid where his two young children are based. While Real Madrid have a long standing interest in the 26-year-old, the European champions have made no concrete attempt to sign him this summer and are understood to be closer to bidding for Brazil international Allison
   An alternative route back to Spanish football would be to rejoin Atletico Madrid, the club where Courtois won three major trophies while on a long-term loan from Chelsea between 2011 and 2014. Atletico’s current No. 1, Jan Oblak, has been targeted by several leading clubs aware of the Slovenian’s €100 million ($117 million) release clause and may have to be replaced this summer.
    According to a Chelsea source, the London club has placed a similar valuation on Courtois, who also attracted interest from Paris Saint-Germain before the French club entered discussions with free agent Gianluigi Buffon. Chelsea’s chances of realizing such a sum for an individual prepared to run down his final year of contract if necessary are minimal.
    The highest transfer fee ever achieved for a goalkeeper remains the €52 million Juventus paid Parma for Buffon over a decade and a half ago. While that record is expected to fall this summer, Chelsea’s position is further weakened by the Premier League’s decision to unilaterally close its window for incoming players on August 9 — more than three weeks ahead of the rest of Europe.
    As a result, there are just nine weeks remaining for Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia to secure an acceptable fee for Courtois, currently on World Cup duty with Belgium. Under Granovskaia, the club has focused on maximizing its income from transfer activity, rarely allowing players with significant resale value to leave under freedom of contract.
   Chelsea are not the only leading Premier League club with a goalkeeping issue to resolve. Liverpool have been looking to secure a new goalkeeper since last year, with their weakness in the position further highlighted by the pair of Loris Karius errors that resulted in two Champions League Final goals last month.
   Oblak and Allison are both high on Liverpool’s wishlist. Atletico began readying themselves for an attempt from Liverpool to trigger Oblak’s release clause in the January window and have continued to insist that the 25-year-old will not leave unless his €100 million price tag is met. For his part, Oblak would prefer to move to a club with a recent history of winning silverware.
   AS Roma want a similar sum for Allison, whose personal preference is to join Madrid. With Liverpool already committed to spending well over €100 million on transfer fees for midfielders Fabinho and Naby Keita and working on other signings, Fenway Sports Group are considered unlikely to sanction a club-record fee for either Allison or Oblak.
   Germany international Bernd Leno is also under consideration at Anfield. A more economical option as Bayer Leverkusen have already secured “a high quality successor” in Lukas Hradecky and have publicly stated their readiness to sell, Leno has been priced at €25m. Alternative options include Barcelona reserve Jasper Cillessen, who has a €60 million release clause.


Barcelona rest Lionel Messi again in Champions League

Updated 02 December 2020

Barcelona rest Lionel Messi again in Champions League

Barcelona rest Lionel Messi again in Champions League
  • Messi was previously rested against Dynamo Kyiv

MADRID: Lionel Messi will get some time off for the last time this season in Barcelona's Champions League match on Wednesday.

Messi, Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Philippe Coutinho will be rested by coach Ronald Koeman at Ferencváros in Group G. Barcelona secured a spot in the last 16 after winning their first four group matches.

Messi was previously rested against Dynamo Kyiv. Midfielder Frenkie de Jong was also left out of that match in Kyiv.

“I know it’s not usual, but with the calendar that we have this season, we only had two opportunities to rest Leo, in Kyiv and tomorrow (Wednesday),” Koeman said. “Of course he is a player who likes to play always, and that’s a good mentality. I asked him, but the final decision is always by the coach. The rest of the season he cannot rest anymore because then we play every three days.”

Koeman said Messi will remain crucial for Barcelona even if he doesn't play as much or as well as in the past.

“Leo is always Leo,” he said. “Maybe it has been a slower start to his season, but he doesn’t need to score 30 goals every season. He has been working well and remains very important for us offensively.”

Koeman said Messi’s absence opens the way for others to get some minutes.

“I want to give opportunities to some other players," he said. "Saturday’s match is very important for us in the (Spanish) league and we have to win it.”

Barcelona visit  promoted Cádiz on Saturday in La Liga, where they sit  in seventh place.

Barcelona have a three-point lead over Juventus in their Champions League group. Juventus host  Dynamo on Wednesday and visit  Barcelona in the final round.

Other Barcelona players will be absent on Wednesday because of injuries, including Gerard Pique, Ansu Fati, Sergi Roberto and Samuel Umtiti.