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Antonio Conte tips Thibaut Courtois to become Chelsea’s Gianluigi Buffon

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Heady praise.

Sunderland v Chelsea - Premier League Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Spanish rumors have followed Thibaut Courtois around for a good while now, partly due to the three most impressive seasons he spent there on loan from Chelsea, partly due to his penchant for keeping it real when talking about transfer rumors (“you never know in football”, etc.), and partly due to the Spanish media’s relentless nature.

The rumors have upgraded over the years from a return to Atlético to a world record transfer to Real, but what hasn’t changed is the reality of Courtois’ contract situation. And that will in fact get upgraded, as Chelsea intend to offer a 50% pay rise in the deal that’s set to be hashed out in early 2017.

Another thing that’s ready to be upgraded is Courtois’ legacy at Chelsea. Coming in on the heels of the legendary Petr Čech was never going to be easy, but Courtois, given his age and talent, has a chance to do even better.

“A goalkeeper like Thibaut deserves to stay at Chelsea for many years and become a type of player to stay and write the story of this club, to become a legend. Thibaut is a Chelsea player and I want him to stay here. I see him with this club for many years. I want this, the club wants this.”

“I hope for Thibaut to repeat the same career as Gigi Buffon. Buffon, for me, is one of the best goalkeepers of all time. I stayed with him at Juventus before as team-mates, then as his coach, in the national team also. I think Buffon is a legend for football, and I hope Thibaut has the same career as Gigi. He has great potential to continue to do great things, to reach great targets.”

Of course, Courtois could become a legend of football at Real Madrid as well, but Conte doesn’t seem worried about that possibility, responding with a joke when the story of Real sending Courtois a get-well-soon message last year was brought up.

“I think that was very good of Real Madrid to send a message. It's good. Maybe, in the future, I'd like to do the same with Cristiano Ronaldo.”

-Antonio Conte; source: Mail

(Thank goodness he didn’t say James, right? Not sure we could’ve handled that rumor-xplosion)