Real Madrid wanted Thibaut Courtois instead of David de Gea but Chelsea demanded €73million
Chelsea warned Real Madrid off making a bid for Thibaut Courtois by demanding £73 million for the goalkeeper.
The fee would have equalled the world record €100 million Real paid Tottenham Hotspur for Gareth Bale in 2013, but Chelsea’s valuation succeeded in scaring off the Spanish club.
Real are now preparing to formalise attempts to sign David de Gea next week with Florentino Pérez, the club president, ready to move for the Manchester United goalkeeper following his international commitments with Spain, but it has emerged that Courtois was their first choice.
Telegraph Sport understands that Real were prepared to pay almost £37 million for Courtois, which would have made him the most expensive ever goalkeeper. When they inquired about the Belgian, however, Chelsea told Real they would have to double that fee to stand any chance of signing the player.
Jose Mourinho, Chelsea’s manager, has previously claimed that Real would have to pay £100 million for each leg of Eden Hazard and his valuation of Courtois was similarly designed to make it clear that the 23‑year-old was not for sale.
Mourinho has insisted that retaining his best players is more important to him than making marquee signings this summer. Other than seeing off Real’s interest in Courtois, Chelsea say the right-back Branislav Ivanovic is on the verge of signing an extension to his contract that expires next year.
Having been knocked back by Chelsea, Real could use the striker Karim Benzema, a player whom United are interested in signing, as leverage to unlock a deal for De Gea. Despite repeatedly resisting United’s attempts to secure him to a new £200,000-a-week contract at Old Trafford in recent months, De Gea has still to give the club a clear indication as to his intentions this summer.
United are braced for Madrid to intensify efforts to sign the 24-year-old once he returns from Spain’s Euro 2016 qualifier against Belarus in Borisov on Sunday.
Real have been made aware that the goalkeeper will not agitate for a transfer and that any move must be driven by the Spanish club and, with a year still to run on his United contract, De Gea is prepared to wait until next summer to move. But both clubs regard such a prospect as unrealistic.
Louis van Gaal, United’s manager, admitted last month that a shortlist has been drawn up of potential replacements for De Gea, with the Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris and Chelsea’s Petr Cech the leading candidates.
While Chelsea were never worried about losing Courtois this summer, Real’s bid could eventually cost the Stamford Bridge club as they may be forced to renegotiate the player’s contract earlier than they would have planned.
Courtois signed a five-year contract worth around £80,000 a week at Chelsea last September after being guaranteed he would be Mourinho’s new first-choice keeper. But armed with the knowledge that their client would have earned a pay rise at Real, the representatives of Courtois could attempt to open negotiations over another new Blues deal that would include a pay increase.
The emergence of Real’s interest in Courtois came at a particularly inconvenient time for Chelsea, as the club prepare for talks with Cech about his move away from the club.
Despite Mourinho wishing to keep Cech or sell him abroad, the club’s owner Roman Abramovich and the Chelsea board have decided that he will be allowed to join another English club, potentially London rivals Arsenal.
French reports have even indicated that Paris St-Germain’s interest in Cech is cooling because they fear he has set his heart on joining Arsenal.
Mourinho’s threat that he will respond to bids for Cech by chasing players from the clubs that want him is unlikely to deter Arsenal or United.
Abramovich feels that Cech’s loyalty and behaviour deserves reward, particularly as Mourinho kept the 33‑year-old in the dark over who would start the season as his first-choice keeper and the Czech Republic international was not given a proper chance to displace Courtois.
Chelsea will demand about £10 million for Cech. Mourinho will tell the club’s board that the money must be reinvested in replacing him with a top-quality goalkeeper, rather than trying to bring in a bench-warmer, even if they have to pay big wages. Chelsea have looked at the Queens Park Rangers goalkeeper Rob Green, but Mourinho would prefer Stoke City’s Asmir Begovic, whom he could confidently play in big games if required.
Begovic, or any other highly rated goalkeeper under the age of 35, would be reluctant to move to Chelsea as deputy to Courtois but the club are willing to offer a healthy salary.