Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois could be using the World Cup to stake his claim for the starting job at Chelsea next season.
After signing from Genk in 2011, the 22-year-old has spent the past three seasons on loan at Atletico Madrid due to the presence of veteran Petr Cech, while steadily establishing himself as one of the top keepers in Europe and even earning plaudits from Juventus’ Gianluigi Buffon.
Courtois has been voted La Liga’s top goalkeeper in each of the past two seasons and his performances were crucial towards the side’s 2013-14 title-winning campaign and run to the Champions League final.
Atletico were previously hopeful they could retain the services of the Belgian intentional, perhaps even permanently, but recent reports have stated that Jose Mourinho does not want to send the youngster out on loan for a fourth consecutive season and is in fact preparing to offer him a new five-year contract to remain at Stamford Bridge.
Courtois though has already said openly that he does not want to return to London only to sit on the bench, meaning the incumbent Cech would seemingly have to be shipped out over the summer in order to accommodate the promising shot-stopper’s wishes.
A fixture at Chelsea for nearly a decade, Cech may be 32 years of age but he still remains one of the best goalkeepers in football and an undoubted club legend, making parting ways with the long-time starter a far from easy decision, regardless of Courtois’ undoubted talent.
A stellar World Cup tournament however could well sway the club’s hierarchy into making the switch between the posts, or at least attract additional transfer interest for the Belgian number one to use as leverage.
Drawn alongside Algeria, Russia and South Korea, Marc Wilmots’ ‘Golden Generation’ are favourites to advance from Group H, though the likeliest scenario has them pitted against either Germany or Portugal in the last 16.
Set to be one of the Red Devils’ most important players in Brazil, either match-up would clearly be a fine opportunity for Courtois to showcase his talents on the biggest stage and to prove his substantial worth to the Premier League side.
As difficult as it is to imagine Cech and Chelsea parting ways, something's got to give and the club would surely be foolish to allow such a talented young star to leave at this point in his career, despite the enticing offers they will no doubt receive over the coming months.