Returning Courtois heading into WC last 16 unbeaten at international level

Thibaut Coutois

The Belgian is already regarded as one of the best players in the world in his position.

Former Atletico Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois is one of the most highly regarded young goalkeepers in the world - and rightly so, having just taken Atletico Madrid to their first La Liga title in nearly two decades as well as to only their second ever Champions League final.

He isn't too shabby at international level either, and after winning his 19th cap in the recent win over Russia, is remarkably still to taste defeat in a Belgium shirt.

We'll see on Thursday whether he makes his 20th appearance for his country or whether Liverpool keeper Simon Mignolet makes his World Cup debut with Belgium already qualified for the knockout stages.

It is the kind of early garnered reputation that signifies the near certainty that the 22-year-old could go on to be the very best goalkeeper in the world, and from there, who knows, possibly one of the best since the turn of the century. In all fairness, he would arguably make the top five stoppers already.

No wonder Jose Mourinho has already indicated the player will be returning to Stamford Bridge next season. Diego Simeone's arrival as manager in 2011 first saw the Belgian head to the Vicente Calderon stadium, and he and the club can be delighted to benefit from one of Europe's best goalkeepers for three years, without having to front up the sort of transfer fee someone of his quality would demand.

But after helping knock the Blues out in the Champions League semi finals, he was only ever going to be heading back to London once the 2014-15 season began.

Courtois has clocked 154 appearances in Madrid, each season more successful than the last, and it has seen him grow comfortable with the pressure and expectations of being at a top club in a top league.

Ten years younger than Petr Cech, who himself went from one of the best young goalkeepers in the world to proving himself as one of the world's elite, somewhere he still resides after winning a spot in the Premier League PFA team of the season, it would be madness not to give Courtois every chance between the posts next year, as difficult as that may sound.

Whatever other problems Mourinho has next year, there may be few tougher decision than choosing his goalkeeper.

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