Official: Courtois free to play against Chelsea in CL semi-finals
Chelsea have announced that their goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, who is on loan at Atletico Madrid, will be able to play against them when the two sides meet each other in the Champions League semi-finals.
Courtois joined Chelsea back in 2011, but he is yet to play a game for Chelsea during the last three years. He has spent all this time at Atletico. Under the guidance of manager Diego Simeone, Courtois has managed to become one of the best in the world.
There was confusion surrounding his availability for the Champions League semi-finals should they come up against Chelsea. There were reports that Chelsea had the option to demand a £5 million fee in order to allow him to play against them. After UEFA confirmed that this was against the rules, Chelsea have said that Courtois is ineligible to play against them in both legs. According to Sky Sports, Chief Executive Ron Gourlay said:
"The loan was arranged back at the start of the season.
"It's quite simple - Thibaut can play against Chelsea. That was never in doubt. Regarding the UEFA statement, we'll evaluate that in due course. As far as Chelsea's concerned, we've complied with the loan rules."
Despite being only 21, he has been spoken of as a target for the likes of Barcelona, while Atletico Madrid have expressed their interest in keeping him beyond the loan spell.
Chelsea, though, will undoubtedly be disappointed to see UEFA entering into the situation just hours before the draw was made. The UEFA statement read:
"In response to media reports referring to the situation of Club Atletico de Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, UEFA would like to reiterate its position.
"Both the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations contain clear provisions which strictly forbid any club to exert, or attempt to exert, any influence whatsoever over the players that another club may (or may not) field in a match.”
The absence of Courtois would have been a huge boost for Chelsea, as the 21-year-old has been one of their best. He has been an ever present for Atletico making 47 appearances in all competitions.
The player himself has hinted at a potential permanent move to Atletico Madrid since he feels happy to be playing regular first-team football. Courtois will not be the undisputed number one at Chelsea due to the presence of Petr Cech, who has kept this position since 2004.