Real Madrid have been told in no uncertain terms by Thibaut Courtois' camp that he wants to sign for Zinedine Zidane's side, with the return message one of interest from the LaLiga outfit.
Chelsea have prepared a plan A and plan B for the 25-year-old. The former sees the Premier League champions ready to hand Courtois a new contract that would make him the best-paid keeper in the world. His current deal, which features a pay packet of £100,000 a week, expires in 18 months' time. In May, he rejected an opening offer that did not meet his double-my-money demands. In recent weeks, his representatives have sat down with the Blues in an attempt to move closer to an agreement, but significant progress is yet to be made.
Chelsea are aware that talks over a new contract are complicated by the fact that Courtois' ex-girlfriend is now living in Madrid with their two children, and that the former Atlético custodian has long harboured a desire to return to a city that he considers to be home.
Real Madrid No. 1 position
Meanwhile, Real Madrid are seriously weighing up changing both of their main goalkeepers. Athletic Bilbao's Kepa Arrizabalaga has all but sealed a January switch to the Bernabéu, while Real's current number one, Keylor Navas, has seen his form affected by injuries. In his analysis of the men between the sticks ahead of El Clásico on Saturday, Sky Sports pundit Thierry Henry explained: "At Real Madrid, like at any major club, if your level drops by even a single step, you're out. And as they're more visible at a Real or a Barcelona, goalkeeping mistakes are more costly there than any other club." Navas hasn't hit the heights that helped win points and trophies a few months back, so Courtois would likely be signed with a view to him competing for the jersey with Kepa next season.
Against this backdrop, Chelsea are also primed to put a back-up plan into action. If Courtois doesn't agree to extend his contract, the West London side would look to complete talks over his transfer as soon as possible, even if the move were not to actually take place until the summer. This would allow the club to plan for life after Courtois and comb the market for the best possible replacement. Manager Antonio Conte is an admirer of Sevilla's Sergio Rico and Atlético's Jan Oblak, but there are also other names on the list.
Courtois does not want to stay at Chelsea, and will ask his representatives to convince Real Madrid to make their move.