A prominent debate among football fans this season has been the goalkeeping situation at Chelsea FC. Ever since signing Belgian wonderkid Thibaut Courtois, fans have been wondering when he would actually debut for the club. For the past three seasons, he has been loaned out to Atletico Madrid and has been a crucial part of the squad that has seen them go from strength to strength, and eventually win the La Liga title this past Saturday with a draw against Barcelona. Meanwhile, Petr Cech is the current Chelsea goalkeeper and is one of the most consistent players in the Premier League, not just at Chelsea.
This season, the question has arisen if Cech should take a step down and see Courtois move into his first choice goalkeeper role at the club. Goalkeepers generally have longer careers than outfield players, and with Cech only being 32 years old, he could still have some of his best years ahead of him. With the examples of Gianluigi Buffon, as well as retired legends such as Peter Schmeichel and Oliver Kahn, goalkeepers could go well into their late 30s or even early 40s before they retire. With that in mind, Cech would still have five years left - at least, assuming injuries don’t halt his career.
On the other hand, you have arguably the world’s greatest goalkeeping talent at your disposal too. Courtois has been instrumental in taking Atletico to the level that they are currently perched on. After winning La Liga, they now have the opportunity to beat their local rivals Real Madrid in the Champions League final. For the first time in 40 years, they are in the biggest game of the season, and have won the title for the first time in 18 years too. You have to ask yourself if they would have been able to without the 22 year old.
Personally, season-to-season comparison would probably see me lean towards the prodigy. Plus, since Courtois has been at Atletico, his adopted team have played Chelsea three times, winning twice and drawing once.
I think Chelsea were happy to keep him at Atletico for the foreseeable future, but now that they have bumped up their reputation and have the chance to face them again in next year's Champions League, Chelsea might air on the side of caution.
To sum up, bringing back Courtois would be the right move. He was voted the goalkeeper of the season among numerous publications around Europe, while Cech hasn’t even been voted the best goalkeeper of the season in the Premier League. He is young, hungry and simply put, one of the most talented keepers I have ever seen. His work for Atletico over the past three years has been outstanding, and will not be forgotten by the Spanish club.
With the rumours that Cech will leave if Courtois is brought back, speculation will be surrounding the future of the Czech international all summer. I imagine he would not be short of suitors around Europe; Monaco are in need of a top class keeper, and Atletico would need one too, as would Borussia Monchengladbach after the departure of Marc Andre ter-Stegen to Barcelona, but I doubt the latter would be able to afford his wages. But with competitors such as Victor Valdes and possibly Iker Casillas among others, Cech could find it hard to find himself among the European elite next season if he does lose out.