Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois has this uncanny ability to say things in the media that are sure to rile up a good portion of the Chelsea fanbase. Even when he's committing himself to the Chelsea cause ("100 per cent staying" and all that), his comments tend to come across as a bit arrogant, a bit aloof, a bit standoff-ish, a bit too "professional".
My guess is his latest quotes from a big interview given to Spanish daily Marca will cause similar consternation. Here he is, for example, talking about his ultimate career plans.
"Yes [I still long for Spain], but not only for the club (Atletico), but how Madrid is and the whole country. From the first minute I fell in love with Spain for its people, lifestyle, food... I still maintain eating dinner and then an afternoon nap, most of the television I see is Spanish... I am half Spanish."
"When I left Spain it was clear that one day I would return there. I have a contract at Chelsea for three seasons. In 2018, when I enter the final year of the contract, we will assess whether to renew or leave."
Courtois also reveals that Chelsea had already wanted him back after his second season on loan at Atletico Madrid, but he pushed back on Mourinho's demands and asked to stay another year. Clearly, he's a bit enamored with the country and the city, and will no doubt look to return one day. That of course should not affect his play at the moment.
The other interesting part of the interview is when he compares his last three club managers.
"[Mourinho was] usually close to the players, but when the results did not go with it last year we could feel him beginning to have some distance."
"[Simeone] basically [is] a man who lives for football and his winning mentality is very big. The way in which he transmits things is incredible, just by talking he makes you grow and overcome your limits. And that's what we did, we were the better team for motivation. We believed and belief is power."
"[Conte is] always thinking of football, tactically very strong, knows what he wants from the team and gets us into his idea based on videos, training and simulating situations in matches... with Conte we know that if we work, games go well. Besides, his idea is to to play from the back and that suits me."
Sounds like there's no cause for concern between goalkeeper and new head coach, who also brought in a new goalkeeper coach to work with Courtois after the kid reportedly fell out with long-time Chelsea goalkeeper coach Christophe Lollichon.
Courtois also talks briefly about Costa ("the press, both Spanish and English, give him an image that does not correspond [with reality]"). Belgium's Euro 2016 elimination ("they had better mentality and showed more desire to win than us"), his role models (Van der Saar, Buffon, Casillas), and what he sees as his own biggest strengths and weaknesses.
"I'm good in the one against one, I think my reflexes are very good, I'm quick, I [go down] fast, I go well high ... Of course, I have to get better at reading the ball. I recently did three penalties because misjudged the exit. It was more used to my footwork was long but after my injury, I worked hard that aspect."
-Thibaut Courtois; source: Marca via Google Translate
Courtois is unlikely to start in tonight's League Cup match, with Asmir Begovic rotating in as usual for the non-league match. But whether Courtois leaves un in 2018, 2019, or 2029, we'll need him to be at his best if we are to recover our top four aims.