clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Mourinho: Contract situation motivated Courtois choice

Paul Gilham

Thibaut Courtois has made an impressive start to his Chelsea career, conceding a goal in his first two games (and there wasn't much he could do about Scott Arfield's strike against Burnley) and generally looking fairly robust. There were a pair of great saves against Leicester amidst a smattering o lesser ones, but the most impressive part of his game is clearly his imperious command of his area -- so far we've seen that if a high cross comes in to a dangerous zone, he will claim it, and he doesn't care who he mauls to do it. Watching him pluck the ball out of the air as if it's nothing has been little short of amazing, and it's clear he's ahead of anyone we've ever had in that regard.

But is he a better all-around goalkeeper than Petr Cech yet? It's difficult to say. Cech's also an elite shot-stopper, and his distribution is markedly better than Courtois'. And while you might not think that distribution is an pivotal part of a goalkeeper's work, it can be the difference in retaining the ball after an opponent's attack and giving it right back to them.

Jose Mourinho, for his part, isn't taking sides in the 'who is better' debate. Instead, the arch-pragmatist is, unsurprisingly, in pragmatic mode:

The point here is not the quality, because Petr is an amazing goalkeeper. What made me have this decision was the fact that the kid (Courtois) is 22, a kid who has only two years on his contract.

If he doesn't play for Chelsea, he is a free agent. I made a decision for the team. The kid is answering in a fantastic way.

Source: Reuters.

This quote actually tells us a lot about what's going on at Chelsea at the moment. Courtois managed to land the first choice slot by virtue of the fact that he could use the threat of not signing a new contract as leverage. He still has that leverage, despite getting the nod for these two games, and one imagines that he's more than a little loathe to give up his power over the club.

But Chelsea's trump card there is Cech, because the Blues aren't completely screwed if Courtois goes thanks to the fact that we have a world class player around to take his place. And that means that we're in a bit of a weird position: Cech is accommodating enough to sit on the bench for a while, but he'll be seeking greener pastures in short order if he's not getting playing time. But if we lose Cech, as has been pointed out on Twitter, we suddenly have one world-class goalkeeper with only two years left on his contract, who'll need to be re-signed and can demand significantly higher wages due to our loss of leverage.

Until Courtois signs a new contract, expect Chelsea to keep control of Cech, either through having him on the bench or sending him out on a short-term loan. But I'd imagine that Courtois will be looking to put off signing that enw deal for as long as possible in order to maximise his wages. Everything seems to revolve around Cech at the moment -- if he kicks up a fuss the club are in in a bit of a pickle.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the We Ain't Got No History Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of Chelsea news from We Ain't Got No History