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Keep, Sell, Loan: Thibaut Courtois's 2015-16 season in review

Taking a look at the good, the bad, and the ugly of each and every Chelsea player's season. Next up, Thibaut Courtois, the present and the future of Chelsea at goalkeeping.

Paul Gilham/Getty Images

Appearances: 30 starts.
Minutes: 2020 in Premier League; 360 in domestic cups; 270 in Champions League.
Statistics (per 90 minutes, Premier League): 1.29 goals conceded; 2.32 saves; 57% distribution accuracy.

sophomore slump for young Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois certainly wasn't part of the grand design that had seen Petr Cech abdicate his throne in favor of the young usurper, and subsequently get his personal reward for a decade of loyal, professional service and be allowed to move across town to Arsenal.  Chelsea's decision to go with the younger man as first-choice paid off handsomely with a Premier League title in 2014-15, but returns were significantly less impressive this season.

Petr Cech was by no means perfect on the other side of London, but with the Gunners well ahead of Chelsea in the table, it was hard to look at Cech in the wrong shirt and not wonder about that things that could've been had he stayed.  But he didn't, and we had to deal with the reality of the situation.

And the reality was that Courtois just wasn't the same this season as seasons prior at either Chelsea or Atlético Madrid.  It is entirely possible that his timid plays were a result of the major knee injury he suffered in the fall, or perhaps they're due to discord with the coaching staff and Christophe Lollichon, specifically.  Whatever the reason, they've reduced Courtois to punching instead of catching, to shuffling feet instead of moving assertively, to being a step behind instead of anticipating before the thought had even crossed the attacker's mind.

The struggles weren't all Courtois's fault — defending is the responsibility of the whole team, or at least the back six, and they were equally, if not more horrendous — and Chelsea hardly looked better when Asmir Begovic played goal while Thibaut was injured or suspended, but perhaps that's the greatest indictment of the 24-year-old.  He was merely average, yet we expect greatness.  We should be getting greatness.

The Good: Chelsea's meetings with Manchester United both turned into goalkeeping duels between two of the best in the world.  Here's Courtois from the 1-1 home draw in February.

The Bad: Clean sheets, lack thereof.

The Ugly: Two red cards.

Verdict: The intro/summary paragraph above may sound a bit too negative.  Courtois, who explicitly committed to Chelsea after months of vague hints to the contrary, remains one of the best young goalkeepers on this planet.  He also remains a rare success story from the loan army and proof of the  club's methods of development for youngsters.