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.
LIMA, Peru (AP) Peru has extradited the country’s former soccer boss to the United States for his alleged involvement in a multibillion-dollar FIFA bribery scandal involving marketing and broadcasting rights.
Manuel Burga was sent to New York on a commercial flight before dawn on Friday.
He has been in jail since December 2015 as part of the investigation. Peru’s Supreme Court in June cleared the way for his extradition and President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski signed a decree authorizing the move a week ago.
Burga oversaw Peru’s football federation for more than a decade until 2014. He has denied any wrongdoing.
While the battle for MLS Cup 2016 has been dwindled down to two sides, the rest of the league continues to make roster transactions in preparation for next season.
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The San Jose Earthquakes announced on Friday that the club has exercised options on six players, including goalkeeper David Bingham, Fatai Alashe, Kip Colvey and Victor Bernardez.
Additionally, the Earthquakes have released nine players, including U.S. Men’s National Team defender Clarence Goodson, Marc Pelosi and Tommy Thompson, however, the latter two are reportedly in talks to return to the club in 2017.
NAPLES, Italy (AP) Napoli eased to a 3-0 win over Inter Milan in Serie A on Friday, with two goals in the opening five minutes.
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The home side got off to a lightning start as, following a wonderful team move, Jose Callejon headed back Marek Hamsik’s chipped pass for Piotr Zielinski to volley into the bottom left corner.
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Zielinski turned provider moments later as Hamsik beat the offside trap to run onto his pass and fire into the bottom right corner.
It was Hamsik’s 104th goal for Napoli, moving him level with Edinson Cavani in third in the clubs’ goalscoring charts. The Slovakia forward needs 11 more to equal Diego Maradona’s record.
Inter started the second half aggressively but hopes of getting back into the match were scuppered six minutes after the restart when Lorenzo Insigne netted his fourth goal in three league matches after visiting goalkeeper Samir Handanovic only flapped at a corner.
Napoli moved level on points with Atalanta, which visits league leader Juventus on Saturday, and fourth-placed Lazio, which hosts Roma in the capital derby on Sunday.
Inter, which beat Fiorentina 4-2 on Monday for its first win under coach Stefano Pioli, remained eighth ahead of the rest of the weekend’s fixtures.
On a day where Atlanta United added another young talent, the 2017 MLS expansion side could be preparing to make a major splash for a South American playmaker.
According to numerous Argentine media outlets, Atlanta is closing in on signing Paraguay international Miguel Almiron for an MLS-record fee of $13 million from Lanus at the end of 2016.
Almiron, 22, has scored three goals in 34 appearances for Lanus since joining the Argentine club in 2015. The young winger began his professional career back in 2013 with Cerro Porteno, where Almiron also played for the club’s youth academy.
On the international stage, Almiron has already earned seven caps for Paraguay after previously representing the nation’s Under-17 and U-20 national teams.