Courtois may leave Blues

Chelsea's Thibaut Courtois is unsettled at Stamford Bridge, and may seek a transfer after this season, a move that could yet be countenanced by incoming Blues manager Antonio Conte.
Chelsea's Thibaut Courtois is unsettled at Stamford Bridge, and may seek a transfer after this season, a move that could yet be countenanced by incoming Blues manager Antonio Conte.PHOTO: REUTERS

Chelsea set their price for Belgium No. 1, who wants to play in the Champions League

LONDON • Antonio Conte has approved a plan for Chelsea to sell Thibaut Courtois this summer if they can get more than £50 million (S$98.2 million) for the Belgium goalkeeper.

Courtois has become unsettled this season and indicated to the Italian when they spoke this month that he wants to leave Stamford Bridge, in part, because the English club will not be playing in the Champions League next season.

Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain, who will be in Europe's leading competition, are likely to sign a new goalkeeper this summer.

Some of Courtois' unhappiness appears to stem from being frustrated at having suffered a knee injury in training with Chelsea in September, immediately after returning from international duty.

The 23-year-old was sidelined for three months and, since his return, he has spent some of his time working on drills with former Chelsea goalkeeper Henrique Hilario. On those occasions, Christophe Lollichon, the Chelsea goalkeeping coach, has worked with Asmir Begovic, Courtois' back-up.

Some Chelsea staff have been unhappy that Courtois was heard complaining about training.

Chelsea believe that the Belgian is the best goalkeeper in the world and placed a £73 million price tag on him when he was linked with Real last summer but they may be forced to drop their asking price if he is agitating to leave.

If Real choose to replace Keylor Navas, their current No. 1, they are more likely to move for David de Gea, who is thought to have a release clause in his contract with Manchester United.

PSG could also meet the asking price but Ligue 1 does not offer the same challenge.

Courtois will be suspended when Chelsea play host to Tottenham Hotspur tomorrow after collecting a second red card this season when the side lost 3-0 to Manchester City two weeks ago.

A Chelsea victory will prevent Spurs from winning the title, if Leicester do not claim that prize with a win at Old Trafford today.

Courtois may be out but the London derby will have added spice after Cesc Fabregas and Eden Hazard, the Chelsea midfielders, recently revealed that they wanted Leicester to be champions.

Hazard went further and said that he wanted to stop Tottenham from winning the title.

With Chelsea hosting Leicester on the final day, Guus Hiddink dismissed the suggestion that his side will fold if Leicester still needed points to win the title at Stamford Bridge.

"There is a rivalry with the London clubs," the Chelsea interim manager said.

"That is a normal rivalry, it does not need extra scrutiny. We cannot give guarantees about the results but can give guarantees the effort will be there. As long as I am here, we will make all the effort. They must finish the season in an honourable way."

THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 01, 2016, with the headline 'Courtois may leave Blues'. Print Edition | Subscribe