One of the hottest properties amongst Europe's has been earmarked for a move to Chelsea according to Spanish media, but the bad news for Blues' fans is that to get the deal, done may require them to trade in one of the continent's most outstanding prospects.
Jose Mourinho has stated for a couple of months now that January wasn't the time to solve the evident striker crisis at the club, and with only a few days of the window left, it seems likely to be the case. The lack of a deal going through however does not preclude clubs negotiating and agreeing a deal that would become effective in the summer, and this is the sort of thing that reports in Spain are suggesting is the case.
Diego Costa, the Brazilian-born naturalised Spanish international striker has been one of the key reasons for the unexpected continuing rise of Atletico Madrid in La Liga. Costa is now a shoo-in for the star-studded Spain World Cup squad and is widely tipped to be a star performer at the tournament in the country of his birth. One of the other reasons for Atli's form has been Belgian international goalkeeper Thibaud Courtois, recently voted the best 'keeper in La Liga. Courtois is a Chelsea player however, and has been out on loan at the Vicente Calderon stadium for the last two and a half years. Atletico manager Diego Simeone has stated that he would be prepared to pay any price to keep Courtois at the club, and you can probably see what's coming here, can't you.
Over in Spain, broadcaster 'La Sexta' has quoted maverick agent Francois Gallardo as saying that a verbal agreement has been reached between Atli and Chelsea for Costa to move to west London in the summer. Gallardo has a reputation in Spain for - shall we say - flying a kite or two about transfer speculation, and whilst often entertaining his predictions are often discounted. This one however has gathered a bit of traction as a number of other sources have suggested that a deal is indeed in place.
Costa has a £32million buy-out clause in his contract and the talk is that a deal has been agreed, although it may not include that sort of money, as Atli are keen to include Courtois in the deal. For the Blues, it's a bit of a dilema. Acquiring a top line striker is clearly their number one priority, but Courtois was identified early as an exceptional talent and he club have been grooming him as the long term replacement for Peter Cech. Courtois is only 21 years old, and an entire decade younger than the Czech international. The problem, and it's difficult to classify it that way in some respects, is that 31 is no great age for a 'keeper, and Cech shows no signs of losing his outstanding skills. Persuading Courtois to come back to Stamford Bridge and sit on the bench for a few years therefore is going to be a difficult sell. They appear to have a clear choice there, stick with check and cash in on Courtois, or mover Cech on now and install Courtois as their number one. If the rumours are correct, they may have selected the former option.
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