Courtois expects to replace Cech... sooner rather than later

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The Independent Football

Chelsea are already planning for a future without goalkeeper Petr Cech, according to the 19-year-old Belgian keeper who believes he can one day replace him.

Thibaut Courtois is currently on loan from Chelsea at Spanish side Atletico Madrid and he believes Cech's injury problems will mean he has to quit long before the likes of David James and Edwin van der Sar, who both played until they were 40.

Courtois told Spanish radio station Onda Cero: "Cech is one of the best goalkeepers in the world. I know that he has problems with his knees and his back. The goalkeeping coach at Chelsea told me that he does not know how much more time he can play at the very top.

"Chelsea spoke to me about being here [in Spain] for two years in a team like Atletico Madrid before spending a year in a team like Fulham or Tottenham so I can integrate in the English League and after that in the fourth year, the normal thing would be Chelsea."

Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas ran the rule over Kevin De Bruyne during the Champions League defeat of Genk at Stamford Bridge last night – he has compared the Genk midfielder to Belgium legend Enzo Scifo.

De Bruyne has long been linked with the Blues and revealed during the transfer window that the two clubs were in talks over his signature. The 20-year-old ended up staying in Belgium but has an opportunity to impress Villas-Boas at close quarters in the Champions League double-header with Chelsea over the next fortnight.

Villas-Boas said: "He's exceptionally gifted technically and reminds me of the old technical Belgian players like Enzo Scifo. We've not only scouted him but we've scouted numerous different players. It doesn't mean that all of them we scout will eventually join us."

Genk manager Mario Been admitted he would sell De Bruyne to Chelsea for the right price. Been, who succeeded Frank Vercauteren as head coach of the Belgian champions at the end of August, said: "Kevin is a really great player and Chelsea already talked about him. Chelsea look and want to buy all the big talents so, for me, it wouldn't be a surprise if Kevin went to Chelsea. Everyone's got his price."

Chelsea had to do without Brazil midfielder Ramires last night. He is also rated 50-50 for Sunday's Premier League trip to QPR, and Villas-Boas said: "The most important thing for us is that we are aware of the amount of talent that we have at our disposal. Any XI that we put across is a very, very strong XI. This puts us in a position of comfort to have always a good rest. There are situations that might happen regarding the QPR game."

Fernando Torres made a goalscoring return to the starting line-up last night, although the Spain striker is currently serving a three-match domestic ban.

Been added: "They can play [Nicolas] Anelka, they can play [Didier] Drogba, they can play Torres, they can play everybody. They have a lot of players who I will say can come to Genk and help us every week to get a better result!"