Things are changing at Stanford Bridge, and we may be bearing witness to a changing of the guard.
According to talkSPORT presenter Richard Keys, 22-year-old Belgian star Thibaut Courtois will start in goal for Chelsea tomorrow against Burnley, displacing 10-year Blues veteran Petr Cech.
There’s no word on whether this is a long-term decision or if manager Jose Mourinho will parlay the two and look to play the hot hand.
The decision is a big one, as Cech has nearly 500 appearances for Chelsea (478 to be exact) and is just 32 years of age – not yet past his prime for a goalkeeper.
Courtois spent three seasons on loan at Atletico Madrid, where this past season the club had overarching success. At his young age, Courtois has already played in a Champions League final and experienced the elation of winning the championship in a major European league.
In his pre-match press conference two days ago, Mourinho admitted that whomever he chooses, the other shall likely be jaded enough to want to leave.
“If Petr plays, Courtois can think about leaving, or visa versa,” Mourinho told reporters. “In this moment they are working well and hard and we are so happy to have them both. I prefer to analyse this in that perspective.”
“During the season if one is definitely my first choice I have to support and stimulate the other one. I can’t have one of these incredible goalkeepers on the bench three or four months waiting for a Capital One Cup game. I have to stimulate the competition and I have to praise some top goalkeeper which is not my first choice.”
Usually, this is described as a “good problem to have” but in this situation, that’s not necessarily true, given that one would likely look elsewhere to get playing time. But Mourinho still believes this can only help the club.
“My opinion with all the respect to fantastic goalkeepers around the world, I think Chelsea has two of the three best goalkeepers in the world,” Mourinho said. “This is something unique. Is it a problem for me? A great problem. They are both fantastic goalkeepers. It’s a problem every manager in every club would like to have.”
The Daily Mail suggested yesterday that the youngster would start, and it seems that will be true.