Thibaut Courtois rarely misses an opportunity to heap the pressure onto Chelsea and the Stamford Bridge club’s desperate attempts to tie down the Belgian to a new contract, and with the Spanish press decamped en masse to London for Tuesday night’s visit of Barcelona, Courtois didn’t disappoint.
“Obviously I miss Madrid,” he told Spanish radio after Chelsea’s 1-1 draw with La Liga leaders Barca, “I have two children there.”
But Courtois ensured that he put the emphasis back on the Blues to come up with an acceptable offer as he attempted to clarify comments from last month where he had said his “heart [was] already in Madrid.”
“My future is not yet clear but the phrase that my heart is in Madrid was misunderstood. It’s not easy to be away from my children, who are in Madrid.
“I have one year left and I’m talking to be able to renew with Chelsea.”
Real Madrid president Florentino Perez remains keen on upgrading his current No 1 Keylor Navas, despite the Costa Rican playing a key part in the club’s continental and domestic success under Zinedine Zidane, and The Independent understands that Courtois has leapfrogged Manchester United man David De Gea to become Madrid’s top target at the position.
That further strengthens the position of the Courtois camp, who have ultimate leverage as their client’s current deal continues to tick down. Entering his prime as an established, elite talent, the Belgium international has an opportunity to start a bidding war between Chelsea and Madrid and the longer he doesn’t sign a contract, his earnings will only go up as his potential transfer fee comes down. The 25 year-old is known to be open to renewing his contract, but we are now well into the territory where it can only happen on his terms.
And while translating Courtois’ latest comments does remind us why he might be keen to return to Madrid for personal reasons, and the opportunity to be closer to his children, perhaps the best decoding of his interviews is simply ‘pay me or lose me’ – a message Chelsea are receiving loud and clear.