Jose Mourinho wants Thibaut Courtois at Chelsea next season

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A club wanting possibly its best goalkeeper available for games would normally get filed under “Gee, you think,” but Chelsea has been fine with Belgian international Thibaut Courtois spending the last three seasons in Spain. In that time, the 21-year-old has become a key part of Atletico Madrid’s rise to UEFA Champions League’s finals, in the process building a reputation as one of the best goalkeepers in the world. At some point, it’s time to come home.

That point may be this summer, if Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has his way. According to reporting from the Guardian, the Blues’ boss, as part of a year-end report he is preparing, will recommend the Atleti number one return to his parent club:

The Portuguese, who has been working on the report over the past few weeks, will also detail the tweaks he would like made to his squad in the close season and will argue for Thibaut Courtois to return to his parent club after three years on loan at Atlético Madrid. Mourinho expects to meet the club’s hierarchy this month to discuss his suggestions as the Londoners seek to strengthen before another title challenge next season.

Mourinho emphasized the decision is not his alone, though it’s difficult to imagine others at the club blocking Courtois’s return. The bigger stumbling block will be the extent to which the young Belgian even sees himself as a Chelsea player anymore. Particularly if he wins a European (or, Spanish) title with Atletico, it could prove difficult to turn his back on a club where he’s become a star.

(MORE: Do Terry, Lampard and Cole have a future at Chelsea?)

Ultimately, however, the point may be moot. If, hypothetically, Courtois preferred to stay in Spain, Chelsea still has to agree to a sale. Atletico still has to be able to afford him (more likely, given the new revenues that will be coming in), and the two clubs will need to agree on a price. Given his age, accomplishments, and likely club-friendly deal Chelsea, Courtois’ price will be considerable.

The other angle here is Petr Cech’s. The long-time Chelsea keeper is currently shelved with a shoulder injury, but he’ll be back by late July. While many would argue that Courtois is the better keeper, Cech is proven in the Premier League. Despite success in La Liga, Manchester United’s David de Gea had trouble making the transition from Atletico to England. Maybe there’s an argument that a title-contending team should stick with the proven keeper?

This may not be an either-or. Chelsea may keep Cech as part of its transition to Courtois. Regardless, if Courtois is brought back, it will signal the coming end of Cech’s time at Stamford Bridge, whether that’s this summer or next. Still only 31, Cech could still fetch a decent fee if he were sold in August.

PODCAST: Bob Bradley talks MLS past, USMNT

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Scott Nicholls and Otis Earle welcomed Bob Bradley to their “Beyond The Pitch” podcast to discuss his time coaching the Chicago Fire, the Fire’s current squad, how MLS has evolved, the new generation of players coming into the USMNT and more.

Perhaps most interesting is Bradley talking about previous losses with stinging emotion that sounds like they happened yesterday, including the 2000 MLS Cup.

[ MORE: Latest Men In Blazers pod ]

Since being fired from Swansea City after less than 100 days, Bradley has been linked with the Norway national team gig as well as a return to Los Angeles. Keep up with the U.S. coach here, and check it out:

U.S. Open Cup preview: Which underdog has best odds?

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Every dog has its day, and the three lower-tier clubs remaining in the 2017 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup are hoping for a second.

Miami FC, Sacramento Republic, and FC Cincinnati enjoyed wins over Major League Soccer sides in the fourth round, and now get further MLS tests in this week’s fifth round.

[ MORE: Lampard linked with manager opening ]

Once FC Dallas and Colorado Rapids tangle on Tuesday, attention turns to the underdogs on Wednesday. Who has the best chance to advance?

  1. Miami FC vs. Atlanta United — Playing an MLS expansion side at Riccardo Silva Stadium will give Miami a bit of confidence, and this is also a side with some good experience in pressure spots. Whether it’s manager Alessandro Nesta or MLS vets Michel, Gabriel Farfan, and Michael Lahoud, MFC won’t shy away. Upset chance: Solid.
  2. FC Cincinnati vs. Chicago Fire — The visitors are having a heck of a season in MLS and don’t have a group which will be worried by a huge crowd, but there’s no debating that 25,000-plus in Southern Ohio give FCC more than a puncher’s chance. Upset chance: Improbable, but possible
  3. LA Galaxy vs. Sacramento Republic — If LA puts something close to its best side out there, Sacramento will struggle to stop its attack.  Upset chance: Long shot.

Elsewhere on Wednesday, New England hosts DC United, Philadelphia visits the Red Bulls, Seattle is off to San Jose, and Houston hosts Sporting KC.

WATCH: Spain’s Saul smashes a shot past Italy’s Donnarumma

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Since returning from a loan at Rayo Vallecano, Saul Niguez has been a somewhat under the radar star at Atletico Madrid.

Coming off his best season with Atleti, the 22-year-old Saul is making an even bigger name for himself at the U-21 EURO this summer.

Spain’s Saul scored a hat trick past Gianluigi Donnarumma and Italy on Tuesday, and the second goal was laced with venom.

Getting onto the ball from 30-plus yards out, Saul smashed his shot with enough power that the ball barely had occasion to rotate.

Saul is under contract at the Vicente Calderon through 2022, and has three caps for Spain’s senior team, too. He was rated Atleti’s third-best performer by WhoScored this season.

Men in Blazers podcast: Transfer window, USMNT at Gold Cup, RBNY-NYCFC

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Men In Blazers are back with their latest podcast, and the boys are hitting club soccer here and abroad as well as Bruce Arena’s men in the red, white, and blue.

Rog and Davo break down transfer window activity, rumored and real; get a heat check on the USMNT heading into the Gold Cup; and recap the (Ray) Hudson River Derby.

All of the MiB content — pods, videos and stories can be seen here, but to really stay in touch, follow, subscribe, click here:

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