Believe it or not, one of Chelsea’s most valuable assets has yet to play a single minute for the Blues.
Sound crazy? That’s because it is. And that’s also why earlier today Chelsea slapped a $30 million price tag on goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.
The Belgian netminder arrived at Stamford Bridge on a $10.5 million transfer fee in 2011 as a project and potential replacement for Petr Cech. He was immediately loaned out to Atletico Madrid where he’s spent the last two successive seasons. Last year he proved himself to be one of the best in La Liga. This season he’s been downright filthy.
Courtois leads La Liga in goals conceded (24) and clean sheets (15). Even more incredible is that a little over a week ago the 20 year old set a new Atletico club record of 820 minutes without conceding a goal at the Estadio Vicente Calderon. For those of you without an abacus handy that’s the equivalent of just over nine games with a clean sheet. The feat has raised Courtois to cult-hero status among Colchoneros supporters and its management, which now faces a fierce battle to sign the keeper, or, at the least, to extend his loan spell.
The situation leaves Chelsea in one of those ‘good problems to have’ predicaments. Cech remains one of the greatest keepers to ever play the game and, at the age of 30, is having yet another world-class season between the pipes. The problem is that Cech’s contract at Stamford Bridge expires in 2016, which is precisely the same year when Courtois’ contract expires. Ahhhh decisions, decisions.
By setting Courtois’ price tag at $30 million – a value derived from Manchester United’s $28.5 million purchase of David de Gea from Atletico two years ago – Chelsea have made the first move in a chess match that promises to captivate the football masses. Expect multiple clubs, especially those with deep, oil rich pockets, to get in on the action to sign the 6’6″ Courtois.
But at the end of the day, it’s Atletico who hold the trump card that tickles Roman Abramovich’s fancy the most.
Helloooo, Radamel Falcao.
Six Premier League teams enter the League Cup (officially known as the Carabao Cup in 2017-18) on Wednesday with plenty of potential upsets lined up for the second round.
[ LIVE: Follow League Cup scores ]
Out of the seven PL clubs who began their League Cup quest on Tuesday, six remain with Watford the only casualties to lower-league opposition.
Newcastle, Southampton, West Ham and Stoke City are all in action on Wednesday as all six PL clubs face lower-league opponents for a spot in the third round, which is when the seven PL teams in European action enter the competition.
U.S. national team players to watch out for include Huddersfield Town’s Danny Williams who starts against Rotherham, while Eric Lichaj starts for Nottingham Forest at Newcastle United.
Below is the schedule for the League Cup games on Wednesday with all games to kick off at 2:45 p.m. ET unless otherwise stated.
Wednesday’s League Cup second round games
Newcastle United vs. Nottingham Forest
Southampton vs. Wolves
Huddersfield Town vs. Rotherham United
Cheltenham vs. West Ham United
Stoke City vs. Rochdale – 3 p.m. ET
Blackburn Rovers vs. Burnley
Expect another big UEFA Champions League night at Anfield on Wednesday as Liverpool look to get by Bundesliga side Hoffenheim and reaching the UCL group stage.
[ LIVE: Champions League scores ]
Jurgen Klopp’s side lead 2-1 after the first leg in Germany last week, meaning Hoffenheim will have to score twice at Anfield to have any chance of advancing. Given the fact that Hoffenheim had a penalty kick saved and spurned several glorious chance at home in the first leg, Liverpool’s shaky defense could provide another nervous evening for the home fans.
Klopp will be hoping his jet-propelled attack of Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino will have enough to put Liverpool in the UCL group stage for the first time since 2014.
Liverpool and CSKA Moscow are the only home teams to return with a first leg lead, while Sporting Lisbon head to Steaua Bucharest after a 0-0 draw in Portugal for the first leg.
APOEL Nicosia travel to Prague to take on Slavia with a tidy 2-0 lead on aggregate but an early goal for the hosts could change the entire complexion of that tie. Azerbaijan outfit Qarabag head to the Danish capital with a 1-0 lead over FC Copenhagen but, again, an early goal for the hosts will make all the difference.
The five winners of these ties will join Celtic, Sevilla, Maribor, Napoli and Olympiacos in the group stage draw on Thursday as those five teams qualified via the playoffs on Tuesday.
Below is the full schedule for Wednesday’s games, which kick off at 2:45 p.m. ET, while you can click on the link above to follow live commentary on all five matches.
Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League playoff second legs
Liverpool vs. Hoffenheim (Liverpool lead 2-1 on aggregate)
FC Copenhagen vs. FK Qarabag (FK Qarabag lead 1-0 on aggregate)
Slavia Prague vs. APOEL (APOEL lead 2-0 on aggregate)
CSKA Moscow vs. Young Boys (CSKA Moscow lead 1-0 on aggregate)
Steaua Bucharest vs. Sporting Lisbon (0-0 after first leg)
For the second time in the 2017-18 Premier League season we rank the form players and, somewhat predictably, there are plenty of new entries and lots of chopping and changing in our rankings.
[ MORE: Power Rankings archive ]
Remember: this is a list of the top 20 performing players right now in the Premier League.
Let us know in the comments section below if you agree with the selections of the top 20 players in the PL right now.
- Paul Pogba (Man United) – New entry
- Romelu Lukaku (Man United) – Down 1
- David Luiz (Chelsea) – New entry
- Javier Hernandez (West Ham) – New entry
- Wayne Rooney (Everton) – New entry
- Sadio Mane (Liverpool) – Up 2
- David Silva (Man City) – Down 3
- Henrikh Mkhitaryan (Man United) – New entry
- Aaron Mooy (Huddersfield) – Up 7
- Riyad Mahrez (Leicester City) – New entry
- Marcos Alonso (Chelsea) – New entry
- Alexandre Lacazette (Arsenal) – Down 7
- Willian (Chelsea) – New entry
- Steve Mounie (Huddersfield) – Down 12
- Manolo Gabbiadini (Southampton) – New entry
- Dele Alli (Tottenham) – Down 9
- Jordan Pickford (Everton) – New entry
- Harry Maguire (Leicester City) – New entry
- Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) – Down 9
- Anthony Martial (Man United) – New entry
Rog and Davo break down Chelsea’s win at Tottenham’s footballing Airbnb, Wembley. Plus, another 4-0 win for Manchester United. And Wayne Rooney scores in Everton’s 1-1 draw with Manchester City.
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