There’s nothing like a bit of dramatic soap opera-style build up in football, and now, with the two teams drawn against each other, controversy over the coming days is going to be completely unavoidable.
Chelsea know very well how good this man is. Not because he had at some point in his career donned a Chelsea shirt, but because they have faced him in the UEFA Super Cup. While Courtois may not have stolen the limelight that night, what we learnt was that loaning players out to continental clubs may not be such a good idea. While the experience of playing European football is undeniably beneficial for his development, Chelsea faced the risk of playing against their own player. Playing in England meant that the player is ineligible against his parent club, but UEFA’s decision to disregard this ‘rule’ means that we do not have such protection outside of England.
This may sound absolutely outrageous, and UEFA’s announcement that Courtois is free to play has made Chelsea’s executive board look all the more foolish. After facing the wrath of this beast of a player just last season, could we really have overlooked the possibility of facing Atletico Madrid again?
The fact is, we never really did overlook this scenario. After the lesson in the Super Cup Final, Courtois had a clause inserted in his contract, demanding a fee to play against Chelsea. Chelsea officials had already predicted UEFA’s stand on this, and had made a mutual agreement with Atletico over this clause with the knowledge that Europe’s football governing body was not going to enforce this clause.
UEFA and the Courtois Saga
As had previously been discussed by Patrickallstar, UEFA’s stand is dubious and largely unacceptable. But as far as Atletico are concerned, they can play Courtois without facing any legal action from Chelsea. This might not serve them well in trying to keep their star keeper for another year, and would definitely strain ties between the 2 clubs.
But should they decide to play him, and Courtois goes on to produce a man-of-the-match performance that sends Chelsea tumbling out of the Champions League, our once ‘perfect’ loan system may just backfire spectacularly.