Before you go ahead, have you seen the Cristiano Ronaldo story? If not, give it a quick glance, it will make you feel a lot better about yourself.
British football fans do it all the time – myself included; when a player is earning rave reviews in one of the leagues outside of the Prem, we can’t help but start singing their praises despite having never seen anything other than a six-second vine or a sentence along the bottom of Sky Sports News.
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From Jackson Martinez to Sebastien Frey to Alex Teixeira – all players who have never set their football boots in the Queen’s country for a substantial period of time – and yet, at one point or another, they were the supposed ‘saviours’ of our respected teams because we’d heard that they had ’10 goals in 14 games’, ‘scored a perfect hat-trick’ or ‘kept seven clean sheets in row’.
Chelsea’s Thibaut Courtois falls into the ‘flavour of the month’ category – or perhaps ‘flavour of the three seasons he spent on loan at Atletico Madrid’ is more accurate – because, despite hipsters trying to kid you they’ve followed the current Blues ‘keeper since his Genk days, the majority of us had been limited to half-watching the rare Atletico Madrid games that Sky Sports puts on whilst we are more intently scrolling through Twitter.
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Being on the books of a huge Premier League club, but spending three seasons away from the British press and football fans was a blessing for Courtois. It allowed him to build up a reputation as a world-class ‘keeper, solely based upon the snippets we’d heard and/or seen during his time at the Vicente Calderon. With the truth being that the majority of us hadn’t seen nearly anything substantial enough to truly form a worthwhile opinion on the shot-stopper.
N.B: It’s funny how opinions are formed in football – Ledley King’s rep as one of the finest Premier League centre-backs developed because he was always injured. Furthermore, Paul Scholes’ place amongst the elite midfielders is one that has grown post-retirement for some strange reason – I mean, he was decent but hardly as memorable as he’s being made out to be nowadays.
Jose Mourinho will never admit this because he’s too stubborn and a delusionally proud man, but selling Petr Cech was as foolish, as it was believing that Courtois could adequately replace the best ‘keeper the Premier League has ever had.
Courtois’ flaws are highlighted in Chelsea’s woeful season, with the Belgium No.1 clearly unable to perform to the high levels expected of him – and, in fairness, to ones that he showed last season – when the defence in front of him isn’t performing. However, Petr Cech has strengthened his credentials further this campaign by still turning in Man of the Match performances in front of the notoriously – and permanently – self-destructive and shaky Arsenal defence.
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During Courtois’ lengthy absence through injury this season, Asmir Begovic – who really is far too good to be a No.2 at any Premier League club – performed admirably, and the former Stoke City man can certainly feel aggrieved at losing his starting spot so quickly after Courtois’ return.
Rumours suggest that newly-appointed Chelsea gaffer, Antonio Conte, is open to selling the former Genk player. However, the fact that the Blues value the goalie at the delusional price of £60million will prove to be an issue.
Sure, there’s every chance that Courtois will become one of the finest goalkeepers in the beautiful game but let’s make sure he earns it, yeah?!