Joining Real Madrid was an inevitability for Thibaut Courtois. Ever since Madrid failed to sign David de Gea from Manchester United in the summer of 2015 after the deadline was missed, there has been speculation that the Spanish and European giants had set their eyes on Courtois. Keylor Navas was supposed to be a stop-gap goalkeeper for Madrid, who have never been fully convinced by the Costa Rica international and have desired for a more high-profile and better custodian. And now they have one in Courtois, a world-class goalkeeper and one of the best in the world.
For Chelsea, though, it was not exactly a great move. After all, the Blues have lost one of their best players in the team, a player who has been hugely consistent and superb since his return from a three-year loan spell at Atletico Madrid between 2011 and 2014. It did not exactly send a great signal to the rest of the big names in the team either, that the London club caved in on the Belgium international’s demands after he reportedly failed to turn up for training leading up to the days of his exit from Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea have signed an immediate replacement for Courtois in Kepa Arrizabalaga and have paid a world-record fee for a goalkeeper, but doubts remain. After all, Kepa is only 23 years of age and has not played in the Champions League and has featured in just over 50 matches for Spanish club Bilbao in La Liga. True, the Spain international is hugely talented, is very confident, good with his feet and can command his area, but he is not exactly a very high-profile player that a title-chasing club like Chelsea tend to sign, especially as he is going to be the first-choice goalkeeper.
True, Maurizio Sarri’s side are not among the favourites for the Premier League title this season – odds on Chelsea to win league 2019 are 14/1 – but the London club will be determined to get back into the Champions League places. With Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur also challenging for the fourth and final Champions League place, the Blues cannot afford to make mistakes, and there is a danger that someone young and relatively inexperienced like Kepa could make one or two critical errors.
Another problem that Chelsea have in terms of their goalkeeping situation is that they do not have an able back-up to Kepa, someone who can actually push the Spain international and compete with him for a place in the Blues’ starting lineup. Willy Caballero is 36 years of age, and his spell at Manchester City from 2014 until 2017 was far from impressive. Chelsea signed Robert Green in the summer transfer window, but the former Queens Park Rangers and Leeds United goalkeeper is 38 years of age and he was never exactly a ‘great’ player. If Kepa gets injured or his form dips, then Chelsea manager Sarri will have a huge problem on his hand.