Thibaut Courtois to Real Madrid: Chelsea facing 'a battle' to keep Belgian - who fears missing out if club sign Manchester United's David De Gea

Courtois has an ambition to play for the Spanish giants

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The Independent Football

Chelsea face a battle to keep Thibaut Courtois this summer, writes James Olley in the Evening Standard.

Courtois enjoyed three successful years on loan at Atletico Madrid and Standard Sport understands he eventually wants to return to Spain and would ideally like to play for Real Madrid or Barcelona.

The goalkeeper is happy at Chelsea for the time being having become first-choice ahead of Petr Cech on his return to the club last summer but the situation is complicated by Real’s impending move for Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea.

Should Real sign De Gea, they will have a top-class goalkeeper who could potentially be the club’s first‑choice for the next decade, meaning Courtois could miss his chance to establish himself at the Santiago Bernabeu.

The player is so far not willing to force a move but it is understood his representatives are actively exploring whether Real would be interested in signing Courtois, especially given the huge expenditure involved.

Chelsea reacted to the agent’s intentions by slapping a £73million price tag on the Belgium No1 in a bid to quash the idea before it had the chance to gather pace and the pro-Real Spanish newspapers had the chance to apply any pressure.

The Premier League champions have no desire to sell Courtois and are in an exceptionally strong position given the 23-year-old signed a new five-year deal with the club last September.David-De-Gea3.jpg

A transfer to Real is therefore unlikely, given De Gea only has one year left on his deal at Old Trafford and so he could be prised away for around half the fee Chelsea have quoted for Courtois.

Reports last week suggested that Real would prefer to sign Courtois but they would need to receive sufficient encouragement that a deal could be done at a level well below the £73million figure to consider switching their attentions from De Gea, who has a huge £200,000-a-week contract offer on the table from United. Chelsea are already braced for the loss of Cech, who has been at the club since 2004.

Cech has a meeting with Chelsea this week to determine his future and although it is possible the club could ask him to stay until Courtois’s situation is resolved, it is understood the 33-year-old is adamant he will leave.