Real Madrid’s pursuit of Chelsea keeper Thibaut Courtois is entering a crucial phase with the Stamford Bridge board combing the market for a replacement and the Premier League transfer window set to close at 18:00 on August 9.
Courtois is eager to return to Madrid, where his family are based, but Chelsea will not allow him to leave until they have found a new stopper. A fee of 35 million euros for the Belgium international has been agreed between the two clubs but Madrid face a waiting game to learn if they will be able to complete the deal.
The Bernabéu board are treating the number one shirt in the same way as the rest of their transfer business this summer: if the opportunity arises, action will be taken. The availability of Courtois, a long-term objective for the European champions, is one such opportunity but Real are well-covered in that area with Keylor Navas, Kiko Casilla, Andriy Lunin and Luca Zidane all on the books.
Chelsea's stopper search key to Courtois deal
Courtois has made it clear he will not sign a new contract at Chelsea and will be available on a free next summer, which places the ball firmly in the Premier League club’s court. Chelsea would prefer not to lose their number one without receiving a transfer fee but Real are equally happy to wait to pick up the World Cup 2018 Golden Glove winner next summer.
Courtois is expected to return to Stamford Bridge training this week ahead of the Community Shield curtain-raiser against Manchester City on Sunday and Maurizio Sarri is eager to hold talks to sound out the 26-year-old about his intentions.
The market in Spain does not close until August 31, which gives Real the chance to land Courtois even after the season has started, but Chelsea will remain firm in their stance if they are unable to replace the Belgium international within the next week. Leicester City’s Kasper Schmeichel and Stoke City’s Jack Butland are at the top of a list that includes Milan keeper Gianluigi Donnarumma and PSG’s Kevin Trapp.
Should Chelsea manage to land one of their targets, even on deadline day, they will still be able to sell Courtois to Madrid up to August 31, giving both clubs ample time to hammer out a definitive deal.