Speaking to journalists after Belgium’s 2-0 win over England on Saturday to confirm their best ever finish at World Cup in third place, Thibaut Courtois addressed speculation regarding his own future head on, as he’s wont to do with most topics. And while there was room for a bit of levity — “wherever I go, Hazard must come along; we will not let each other go” — the rest of his spiel was quite serious.
Interestingly, there was no mention of his children, as has been customary for him in these sorts of interviews. Instead, the focus was on the money. That’s not to say that money is more important than his kids, but if Chelsea were to show him a lot of it (money, not kids), more than any goalkeeper has ever been offered before, to be specific, he would perhaps consider toughing out his current familial situation for a bit longer.
“I will be coming back, for sure, and I will see what they want [to do] and how they say it. Obviously with this World Cup, I think what was on the table obviously is different than what I can have, maybe. In this World Cup I have ignored all the speculation, all the rumours. But now, in the next few days, I will have a chat with my agent and see what Chelsea told him, and then we will talk.”
Contract talks with Courtois have been going on for a better part of a year, if not longer, with an offer tabled back in wintertime that would’ve made him the joint-highest paid goalkeeper in the Premier League (and thus probably the world) with David De Gea at £200k/week plus bonuses. With De Gea also rumored to be in line for an extension at Manchester United (his deal expires in two years), Courtois wants to leverage his Golden Glove at the World Cup into an even bigger deal.
Fair play to him, I suppose. Can’t hurt to ask, right? Except maybe in a situation where his contract is now in its final season and he’d thus be able to walk for free this time next year. Then it’s got a strong sense of an ultimatum about it. Obviously, he’d have no qualms about playing out said final year at Chelsea, though the club would be quite foolish to agree to simply maintain the current situation.
“But I feel happy at Chelsea. It’s not that I necessarily want to leave. People always complain that players don’t comply with their contracts but maybe they do. I don’t think they will keep someone with my qualities on the bench, even if I don’t sign [a new contract]. But maybe [staying] is possible because I like it in London.”
No, staying without a new contract should not be a possibility. Sorry, Thibaut. It’s decision time.
Of course, things don’t always work out that cleanly in real life. We have four weeks to figure it out, or less if we actually want to bring in a proper replacement, like Alisson from AS Roma.
When Courtois comes back from his post-World Cup vacation in August, he should be finding a Chelsea already in mid-awakening to the new world order of Sarri. There are bound to be growing pains however, so reducing drama and distractions elsewhere as much as possible will be of paramount importance. That includes Courtois’ contract status and future as well.
“It’s hard to talk about [the appointment of Sarri] because I don’t know exactly what happened. But the decision that was made a few days ago. I think as a group we expected that to happen a longer time ago because we heard what the board said to us already after the season. Then it takes until now [to happen]. I don’t think it’s easy for a new manager to come in and shape us in a few weeks.
“I think the fans need to understand we will need some time to adapt to the new manager and a different style. I know Dries Mertens [who worked under Sarri at Napoli] and he told me really well about Sarri, so I’m looking forward to come back and win some prizes.”
-Thibaut Courtois; source: Guardian
Time is not something we have in abundance, and neither Sarri, nor Courtois will get a lot of it to get things right this summer and next season.