Thursday, 29 May 2014

Wonderkid #9 - Thibaut Courtois

Key: Courtois has been an integral part of Atletico Madrid's form in the last two seasons

Promising: Courtois has impressed Europe with his solid performances in the past 3 years
Quick reflexes: Courtois has established himself as one of the best goalkeepers in Europe
Hello and welcome to the ninth installment of my wonderkid series. Today, I will be analysising arguably one of the best goalkeepers on-form in Europe right now - who is currently on-loan at an in-form side in Spain from Chelsea. Who is this you ask? Thibaut Courtois. 

The young Belgian stopper has developed significantly since his arrival at Stamford Bridge was announced in July 2011 - but he is yet to make an appearance for The Blues to this day.

This is because he has been constantly sent out on-loan to previous club Atletico Madrid, who Chelsea signed him from for £7million pounds back then. 

He has recently turned 22, and he has already achieved these accomplishments in his career so far: 

  • He has won the Ricardo Zamora Trophy (the least goals conceded in Spain) in back-to-back seasons; 2012-13 and 2013-14
  • He has won the UEFA Europa League, Copa del Rey, UEFA Super Cup and a runner-up medal in the Champions League
  • He became the youngest ever goalkeeper to play for the Belgium national side after being called up in October 2011
  • He has 15 international caps for Belgium, and has played 199 matches in total for Genk and Atletico
  • He set a new Atletico Madrid record of 820 minutes without conceding a goal at the club's home ground
  • He conceded the fewest amount of goals in a substantial amount of matches this past season, helping Atletico to win their first Liga BBVA trophy since 1996 - making 70 saves and keeping 20 clean sheets from 37 matches played in the league
So what makes Courtois so good? Well, the fact that he is still young means that there is time for him to develop further - but he looks like a perfect goalkeeper.

Tall, fast, good handling and has a presence in the air. He has a good shots per game ratio, and it is fair to say that he has benefited from the loan spell he has had at Atletico Madrid since his move to Chelsea was confirmed. 

Having said that, Chelsea will have to do all they can to allow him to settle into the club - he is still young and could possibly leave the club permanently if Mourinho does not get his tactics right. 

This newspaper article just emphasises my point.

Courtois himself has already said that it would not be good if he and Cech were rivalling each other for the number 1 spot at The Blues, meaning that the likelyhood that one or the other would have to leave is high.

PSG have expressed rumoured interest in Cech, who would be reluctant to leave Chelsea so easily after being a loyal servant to them and a great goalkeeper for the London club since 2004, with 324 appearances for the side proving his importance. 

Everyone has been quick to try and compare the two goalkeepers, even though it is hard to. Courtois is 10 years younger than Cech, and looks like a ready-made replacement for the Czech keeper; youth is important in a team and even though Cech is one of the best goalkeepers to grace the Premier League in the last ten years, loaning the Belgian (Courtois) out again for another season will seem like Chelsea are being ignorant - especially as he has vastly improved as a player and major clubs including Real Madrid are watching his progress. 

Cech has been struggling with injuries this season and will be disappointed that he could not have more of a positive influence on the side, but it can be argued that the 22-year-old is the better goalkeeper on current form. He is certainly a better long-term option, and if Chelsea end up losing him then they will have literally "shot themselves in the foot."

I wish the best for Cech in the future, he is still a great goalkeeper but the big question is whether his career needs a new club or whether he will be suited to a rotation role when Courtois returns in July. 

If Courtois' achievements and recent performances are not enough to prove to Mourinho and the staff at Chelsea that he deserves to get a chance, nothing will.