If Friday’s UEFA Champions League draw sets Chelsea against Atletico Madrid, the Mattress Makers face a stiff fee in order to play their starting goalkeeper.
Thibaut Courtois is in his third year on loan from Chelsea to Atletico, and the deal that allows the goalkeeper to play for the Spanish team includes a clause that would make it mighty pricey to feature against the Blues.
It seems Atletico is not willing to pay the price to use its 21-year-old Belgian star, seeing as it would cost the La Liga club approximately $8.3 million.
“It’s a number we can’t afford to pay,” said club president Enrique Cerezo.
From The Guardian:
“The problem if we got Chelsea would be whether Courtois can play or not,” Cerezo said. “It is possible that he won’t be able to play. Is that in the contract? Yes, of course. I imagine that if he plays, it will need a big quantity of money [to be paid].”
Chelsea say that it is up to Atlético to decide whether they may want to select Courtois against them. They made no comment on the specific clause in question.
Thirty-four year-old Spanish keeper Daniel Aranzubia is Atletico’s second-choice keeper. Courtois has not played in a match for Chelsea since transferring from Genk in 2011.
He also hasn’t lost since late February, in a strong run of form that includes six clean sheets and a 8W-2D record for Atletico.
Of course there’s a small part of any fan who likes to think Chelsea would say, “Play him for free. Bring us your best.” But that’s not happening, nor should it. It’s an outlier, even considering the two massive clubs involved, and it’s safe to assume Chelsea’s real answer was, “We told you how much it would cost to outright buy him.”
Jamie Vardy has joined several Leicester City voices in refuting claims that he helped usher in the dismissal of championship-winning manager Claudio Ranieri.
Vardy led the Foxes in scoring during last season’s run to the Premier League title, but has struggled to follow that success this season. He has five goals in 22 matches.
[ MORE: Ranieri – “My dream died” ]
Ranieri was fired this week with Leicester on the verge of dipping into the relegation zone, where they now sit ahead of Monday’s match against Liverpool.
Vardy wants the world to know this wasn’t his preference, saying, “There is speculation I was involved in his dismissal and this is completely untrue, unfounded and is extremely hurtful!”
Harry Kane spent the first half hour of Sunday’s tilt versus Stoke torturing the visiting Potters.
Kane opened the scoring in the 14th minute. Christian Eriksen bobbled Dele Alli‘s pass into the 18, but Ryan Shawcross‘ barely hit his clearance and Kane took a touch before belting home for the advantage.
[ WATCH: Spurs-Stoke live, replay ]
His second was lovely, bounding a low volley between the legs of Victor Wanyama and by a diving Lee Grant.
The third carried a bit of luck, with his low free kick taking a turn off the leg of wall end Peter Crouch to elude a lunging Grant. 3-0.
Here are the first and third, too:
The EFL Cup has named its team of the tournament ahead of Sunday morning’s final between Southampton and Manchester United at Wembley Stadium.
Liverpool and Southampton lead the way with two players each, while finalists Manchester United have just one player in the team.
[ MORE: Whitecaps acquire Brek Shea ]
That’s Ander Herrera, who joins a midfield with Sofiane Boufal (Saints), Mohamed Diame (Newcastle United), and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal).
Up top are Liverpool’s Daniel Sturridge and Chelsea loanee Tammy Abraham, the latter for his work at Bristol City.
The back four is led by Saints’ Maya Yoshida and Hull City’s Harry Maguire, with Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool) and Matty Pearson (Accrington Stanley) joining the unit.
The backstop is Leeds United’s Marco Silvestri.
The penultimate Premier League match of the weekend pits Stoke City against third-place Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane on Sunday (Watch live at 8:30 a.m. EDT on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).
Jan Vertonghen is back alongside Toby Alderweireld in the heart of Spurs’ back line, and it’s no surprise that PL Download stars Harry Kane and Hugo Lloris also start.
Geoff Cameron‘s four-month layoff appears to be reaching its end, as the USMNT back is on the subs bench for Stoke City. He last played on Oct. 22.
Tottenham Hotspur: Lloris, Walker, Dier, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Davies, Wanyama, Dembele, Eriksen, Alli, Kane. Subs: Vorm, Trippier, Wimmer, Winks, Sissoko, Son, Janssen.
Stoke City: Grant; Bardsley, Shawcross, Martins Indi, Pieters; Whelan, Adam; Arnautovic, Allen, Ramadan; Crouch. Subs: Given; Muniesa, Berahino, Afellay, Diouf, Cameron, Imbula.