Friday 14 December 2018

Real hoping Courtois will stall on Blues deal ahead of summer bid

Thibaut Courtois
Thibaut Courtois

Matt Law

Real Madrid want Thibaut Courtois to stall on signing a new Chelsea contract until April as the goalkeeper prepares to go head-to-head with another of the Spaniards' targets, David De Gea.

Chelsea still hope Courtois will sign their world-record contract offer that has been on the table since the end of last year and could hold more talks this month.

But the Belgian risks annoying his current employers if he waits too much longer after having all of his demands met.

Courtois and De Gea are high on Real's list of potential summer signings, even though Chelsea and Manchester United are trying to tie their goalkeepers down to new long-term contracts.

United have already confirmed they will trigger their option to extend De Gea's deal to 2020 and offer him fresh terms past that date, while Chelsea have offered Courtois a contract that would make him the best-paid goalkeeper in the world on more than £200,000 a week.

But Courtois is yet to sign and Real want him to stall until April, when they plan to make a decision over which goalkeeper to make their number one summer target.

Sunday's Premier League game between Manchester United and Chelsea at Old Trafford will give Real chiefs the perfect chance to compare Courtois and De Gea.

Expires

It is believed Real currently rate De Gea slightly higher and would, ideally, prefer to sign the Spaniard. But there is a feeling inside the Bernabeu that Courtois may be easier to get because his current contract expires in 2019. In 26 Premier League games, Courtois has kept 13 clean sheets - two fewer than De Gea, who has played a game more.

De Gea is currently equal second in the League table for the most saves made with 87, while Courtois is down in 15th place with 52.

Chelsea had hoped Courtois would have signed a new contract by now after meeting his demand to be paid more than the £200,000 a week De Gea earns at United. Interest from Paris Saint-Germain muddied the waters, but it still seems a straight fight between Chelsea and Real to secure the 25-year-old.

Courtois on Tuesday night acknowledged the faith Chelsea had put in him, while once again flirting with Spanish reporters over the possibility of joining Real.

Chelsea have arguably done more to try to satisfy Courtois than any other player in recent years. He was given Petr Cech's place in the team when he threatened to refuse to return from his loan spell at Atletico Madrid and repaid Chelsea with superb performances.

When Courtois then fell out with Cech's old goalkeeping coach Christophe Lollichon, who has always been highly valued by owner Roman Abramovich, Chelsea once again found a solution. Lollichon was moved aside in the summer of 2016, with Antonio Conte bringing Gianluca Spinelli in with him to work with Courtois.

The Belgian rejected Chelsea's first contract proposal, but made encouraging noises after the club significantly increased the wages on offer and agreed to push him ahead of De Gea.

There is not much more Chelsea can do, other than hope and encourage Courtois to ignore Real's delaying tactics and commit himself to the club.

Should the saga run on much longer, then Chelsea will be forced to consider possible replacements for Courtois, with Roma's Alisson Becker likely to be high in their thoughts.

Speaking to Spanish reporters after the draw with Barcelona, before refusing to explain his situation to English reporters, Courtois said: "I said my heart was in Madrid, because I have my two children there, and it was misinterpreted. This situation is not easy for me.

"I still have a year on my contract [at Chelsea], I am happy and I can also extend. I do not forget that Chelsea has supported me since the beginning. I do not think Florentino Perez will call me, but he will call my agent who will listen to him."

Real are also set to decide whether or not to press ahead with a bid for the Chelsea and Belgium team-mate of Courtois, Eden Hazard. Chelsea are prepared to pay Hazard more than £300,000 a week to sign a new contract and the forward revealed he does not feel at his best in the "false nine" position he was asked to play against Barcelona.

"In games like this against a quality opposition, it's difficult," said Hazard. "You don't get a lot of balls. I might have touched 25 balls and 15 of them were flying towards my head. I prefer to play like I did in the last 10 minutes [on the left], but the manager has the final word."

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Telegraph.co.uk

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