With the close of the summer transfer window just three days away, Chelsea keeper Thibaut Courtois looks set to finally engineer a move away from Stamford Bridge, with the Telegraph reporting that the Belgian number one failed to return to the club following his extended break from the World Cup.
The 26-year-old was supposed to join Gary Cahill, Eden Hazard, N’Golo Kante, Michy Batshuayi and Olivier Giroud in a 4pm training session at Chelsea’s training ground today, but there was no sign of the keeper as speculation mounts that he will move to Real Madrid.
Newly installed boss Maurizio Sarri had explained that he had hoped to talk to Courtois in person about the player's future, but with the Belgian nowhere to be seen, it looks like Chelsea will have to find another number one before the start of the Premier League next Friday:
I am not interested in the agent. I want to hear if Courtois will say the same to me. I only want players with a very high level of motivation.
I talked to them two days ago so I know what they will say to me tomorrow. I'm ready. But I think more good [news] than bad.
I am a Chelsea player. I have always made it clear that I want to stay here. The only club I know of that made a genuine offer for me was Barcelona. But my head is here and I have the intention of staying as long as the club don’t want to sell me.
Courtois has made no secret of his desire to return to Spain, the 26-year-old has two children with his former partner in Madrid, and has admitted that he would like the opportunity to be closer to them.
Stoke 'keeper Jack Butland may be the only realistic replacement for Courtois at this late stage of the window, it is believed that £25 million would be enough to prise the Englishman from the Potters.
Spanish outlet Mundo Deportivo are also reporting that Chelsea would be willing to trigger Atletico Madrid stopper Jan Oblak's €100 million release clause should Courtois leave, but it is hard to imagine why Courtois would not have been sold earlier if that was the case.
Chelsea can wait until after Thursday’s Premier League deadline to conduct the sale of Courtois to Madrid as La Liga clubs have until the end of August to sign players, but if that is the case then there must be a serious effort in place to sign a replacement before Chelsea's PL opener against Huddersfield Town on Saturday.