Crunch time for Chelsea keeper Cour­tois

Viet Nam News - - SPORT -

LON­DON — Thibaut Cour­tois faces a defin­ing pe­riod as the Chelsea goal­keeper jug­gles his bids for FA Cup and World Cup glory, while con­sid­er­ing whether to com­mit his long-term fu­ture to the Blues.

Cour­tois has one year to run on his cur­rent Chelsea con­tract and a new 200,000-pound-per-week (US$269,000) deal to ex­tend his stay at Stam­ford Bridge is re­port­edly on the ta­ble.

But the 26-year-old has been linked with Real Madrid and a move back to the Span­ish cap­i­tal could make sense for Cour­tois, who spent three years with Atletico Madrid on loan from Chelsea.

He is a reg­u­lar vis­i­tor to Madrid, where his for­mer part­ner Marta Dominguez lives with his chil­dren Nicolas and Adri­ana.

Real’s cur­rent goal­keeper Key­lor Navas has en­dured an er­ror-prone campaign, spark­ing talk of an of­fer for Cour­tois.

Ear­lier this sea­son, Cour­tois,

Wed­nes­day’s win came against Mar­seille, the club he sup­ported as a young­ster, but he said beat­ing them did not in any way take the shine off his evening. who joined Chelsea from Genk in 2011, wouldn’t rule out a move, telling re­porters in Spain: “I have not made a de­ci­sion on my fu­ture.

“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 do not forget that Chelsea has sup­ported me since the be­gin­ning.

“I do not think (Real Madrid pres­i­dent) Florentino Perez will call me, but he will call my agent who will lis­ten to him.”

With Chelsea hav­ing failed to qual­ify for next sea­son’s Cham­pi­ons League af­ter fin­ish­ing a dis­ap­point­ing fifth in the Premier League, Cour­tois is one of sev­eral stars whose fu­tures with the club are now in doubt.

But be­fore he con­sid­ers whether to push for a move, Cour­tois has a chance to fin­ish his do­mes­tic sea­son on a high in Satur­day’s FA Cup fi­nal against Manch­ester United.

The Wem­b­ley show­down of­fers

“It’s not hard, be­cause I am self­ish. I had lost fi­nals, I left home at 14 to win ti­tles and to­day I had the chance to win a tro­phy.

“I am proud of the sea­son Chelsea their last shot at sil­ver­ware this term as they look to make amends for last sea­son’s Cup fi­nal de­feat against Arse­nal.

Chelsea go into the fi­nal with An­to­nio Conte’s fu­ture in doubt fol­low­ing the man­ager’s sea­son­long feud with the club’s hi­er­ar­chy over their fail­ure to back his trans­fer plans af­ter last year’s league ti­tle tri­umph.

‘Big mo­ti­va­tion’

The in­tense for­mer Ju­ven­tus coach has also re­port­edly alien­ated sev­eral play­ers with his de­mand­ing train­ing ses­sions.

Even beat­ing United might not be enough to per­suade Chelsea owner Ro­man Abramovich to keep Conte and Cour­tois hardly is­sued a vote of con­fi­dence in the Ital­ian this week.

“It’s not about the man­ager, we want to win for the fans and the club,” Cour­tois said when asked about the sig­nif­i­cance of the fi­nal.

“If you want to win tro­phies, firstly, it’s for the fans. They come Mar­seille have had, of their fans who on their own al­most filled the whole sta­dium, and of (coach) Rudi Gar­cia and what he has done with that team.” — AFP there ev­ery week to sup­port you. We are ready for it.

“We have a big mo­ti­va­tion to win. And es­pe­cially be­cause we don’t have a tro­phy this sea­son.”

If Cour­tois leaves Wem­b­ley with his first FA Cup win­ner’s medal, it would be the per­fect prepa­ra­tion for the World Cup.

Bel­gium head to Rus­sia – where they face Eng­land, Panama and Tu­nisia in the group stage – ranked as one of the dark horses to win the tour­na­ment af­ter as­sem­bling a squad packed with world­class tal­ent.

But, de­spite the pres­ence of Cour­tois, Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne and com­pany, they have un­der­achieved in re­cent years, bow­ing out in the quar­ter-fi­nals of the 2014 World Cup and Euro 2016.

A long-awaited strong run from Bel­gium would set the stage for Cour­tois to un­der­line his cre­den­tials as one of the world’s top keep­ers –and up the ante as Chelsea wait to dis­cover if he will re­buff Real’s in­ter­est. — AFP

Barca bound?: An­toine Griez­mann cel­e­brates af­ter clinch­ing the Europa League on Wed­nes­day. — AFP Photo

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