Belgian custodian Thibaut Courtois, who had gone AWOL from Chelsea’s training, on Wednesday got his way as he signed for European champions Real Madrid on a six-year contract after the clubs agreed to a £35 million fee.
“Real Madrid C.F. and Chelsea F.C. have agreed the transfer of Thibaut Courtois, who has signed for the club for the next six seasons,” a statement on Los Blancos’ website read.
Courtois had stalled on signing an extension since last year, along with compatriot Eden Hazard, but in order to force a move to Madrid, he took things up a notch even as his countryman resigned himself to staying put in the English capital for another season at least.
Belgium achieved their best-ever finish of third at the World Cup in the summer, with Courtois starring between the sticks and due to their deep run at the tournament, the Premier League outfit gave all their Belgian, French and English players an extended off.
However, players from the aforementioned countries were supposed to check in on Sunday/Monday as the Premier League’s 2018/19 season kicks off on August 10, but Courtois was nowhere to be seen.
N’Golo Kante, Olivier Giroud, Hazard, Gary Cahill and Michy Batshuayi were all back in training, but the towering custodian was playing
A Spar store in Tenerife posted a picture of him on Twitter, which spread like wildfire and as Chelsea came to accept that this player simply didn’t want to play for the club anymore, they opened negotiations with Athletic Bilbao for the transfer of Kepa Arrizabalaga.
And with the Spanish custodian’s buyout clause being met, Courtois’path to Madrid was paved clear. He’s expected to be unveiled as a Real Madrid player on Thursday.
A two-time Premier League and, due to his three seasons spent on loan with Altetico Madrid, a La Liga champion as well, the 26-year-old is among the finest shot-stoppers in the world.
In the current transfer market, Courtois is a steal at £35 million. The low transfer fee was mostly due to the fact that the Belgian was in the last year of his contract and would have departed next season on a free.
Madrid have been on the lookout for a high-profile custodian ever since club legend Iker Casillas departed in 2015 and while they have publicly courted Manchester United custodian David de Gea, the transfer never materialised.
Despite the fact that they have an able goalkeeper in Keylor Navas, the 13-time UEFA Champions League winners kept pushing for de Gea, only to be stymied by United’s stubborn stance.
De Gea had a poor World Cup in stark contrast to Courtois and the fact that the Belgian was available on the cheap probably convinced the club board to go for the Chelsea shot-stopper.
Real have just returned from their pre-season tour of the United States and they will next face AC Milan on Sunday. Fans can expect to see their club’s latest acquisition in action against the Rossoneri.
Courtois’ first competitive fixture will be in the UEFA Super Cup on August 16, against a team that will ring a bell: Atletico Madrid.