Thibaut Courtois came through the ranks at Belgian club Genk and was a guest of honour on Sunday as his old side hosted STVV in the First Division A.
Courtois made his professional debut for the Smurfs in 2009 aged 16 and caught the eye of Chelsea over the next two seasons, the Stamford Bridge board snapping him up in 2011 before loaning him to Atlético, where he would spend the next three years.
Speculation has been rife this summer that Courtois is angling for a return to the Spanish capital – where his children live – with Real Madrid heavily linked with a 35-million-euro move for the Belgium international.
However Courtois, who is still on holiday after the Red Devils’ run to the World Cup semi-finals, would not be drawn on his immediate future when quizzed by local media after the game.
“I’m not going to comment on all of that at the moment, it’s a delicate matter,” Courtois said. “I can’t say much about it now either. I’m not thinking about it, I’m very relaxed about it. Getting worked up isn’t going to help the situation. The important thing is to be ready for the new season.”
Sarri: "There is more good news than bad news"
Also on Sunday, after his side lost 2-0 against Manchester City in the Community Shield at Wembley, Maurizio Sarri sent a message to Chelsea fans concerned about the rumours surrounding Courtois and his club and international teammate Eden Hazard: “I spoke to them both a couple of days ago and I think there is more good news than bad,” the Italian told reporters. “I’m not interested in whatever his agent has said. I would like to know if Courtois would tell me the same thing. I only want people here who are committed.”
Real Madrid’s hopes of signing Courtois hinge on Chelsea’s ability to find a replacement of similar calibre before the Premier League transfer window closes next Thursday.