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.

Burnley 1-0 Stoke City: Barnes’ late strike guides Clarets into top four

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Don’t look now, but the Clarets have climbed into the Premier League top four.

Burnley found a way Stoke City late on Tuesday, picking up a 1-0 win at the Turf Moor behind Ashley Barnes‘ late finish.

[ MORE: Gremio reaches Club World Cup final, awaits Real Madrid or Al Jazira ]

The Clarets, who have now secured 31 points over their first 17 matches this season, leapfrogged Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham with the victory. However, all three sides will be in action on Wednesday.

Steven Defour nearly put Burnley ahead on 69 minutes, when the front man tested Stoke keeper Jack Butland — who had to make a sprawling save to his right.

While Stoke mustered up several quality chances, it was Johann Berg Gudmundsson’s blast in the first half that nearly found the top left corner.

Next up for Burnley will be a date against Brighton on Saturday, while Stoke travels to Huddersfield the same day.

Club World Cup wrap: Gremio reaches final, Urawa takes fifth place

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One half of this year’s FIFA Club World Cup final was decided on Tuesday as Brazilian side Gremio topped Liga MX champions Pachuca.

Second-half substitute Everton proved to be the difference for the Brazilians, with the attacker scoring in extra time to lift Gremio.

[ MORE: LA FC selects Urena, four others in MLS Expansion Draft ]

Pachuca’s chances of completing a comeback were extinguished with 10 minutes remaining in extra time, as Víctor Guzman was sent off upon picking up his second yellow card of the semifinal.

Meanwhile, Japanese side Urawa Red Diamonds captured fifth place in the tournament after narrowly topping Wydad Casablanca, 3-2.

Despite going behind early, Urawa responded almost immediately in the first half, before building its lead to 3-1 at the hour mark.

A late penalty kick from Reda Hajhouj gave Casablanca a glimmer of hope in the dying moments, however, the Moroccan-based club couldn’t find a way to equalize.

Gremio will await either La Liga giants Real Madrid or Al Jazira in the Club World Cup final, which will be played on Saturday. The loser of that match will take on Pachuca in the third-place game.

Below are the scores from Tuesday’s FIFA Club World Cup matches.

Gremio 1-0 Pachuca (after extra time)

Wydad Casablanca 2-3 Urawa Red Diamonds — Fifth-place match

LAFC selects Urena, 4 others in MLS Expansion Draft

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Los Angeles FC selected five players in the MLS Expansion Draft, including Costa Rican national team star Marco Urena.

Whether they’ll make their way to the City of Angels is another story.

The first pick from general manager John Thorrington was goalkeeper Tyler Miller from Seattle Sounders.

[ MORE: Benitez on NUFC struggles ]

Going next was Latif Blessing from Sporting KC, an electric attacker who netted thrice with an assist last season.

Next was Urena from San Jose and the Costa Rican national team, a huge addition, and then Columbus left back Jukka Raitala before closing up the draft with Raheem Edwards from Toronto FC.

LAFC has already announced the signings or acquisitions of Carlos Vela, Walker Zimmerman, Carlos Alvarez, Monday Etim, and Guillermo Vizcarra.

The club will also loan Omar Gaber from Basel and Rodrigo Pacheco from Lanus.

WATCH LIVE: Three Premier League matches

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Chelsea visits the John Smith’s Stadium to face Huddersfield Town in one of three Premier League fixtures this chilly Tuesday in December (Watch live at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

The Blues are now 14 points back of Manchester City, and three points clear of fifth place.

Meanwhile there are a pair of matches on NBC Sports Gold: Burnley looks to keep pace with its Top Four ambitions when it hosts struggling Stoke City, while in-form Crystal Palace seeks a home win that would move it out of the drop zone. In its way? Dangerous, attack-minded Watford.

Burnley vs. Stoke City — 2:45 p.m. ET [ STREAM ]

Huddersfield Town vs. Chelsea — 3 p.m. ET [ STREAM ]

Crystal Palace vs. Watford — 3 p.m. ET [ STREAM ]