Thibaut Courtois said his move to Real Madrid from Chelsea was a “dream come true”, as he was unveiled by the European champions at the Santiago Bernabeu on Thursday.
The 26-year-old goalkeeper joined Real for a reported fee of 35 million euros ($40.6 million) on a six-year deal, with midfielder Mateo Kovacic departing Madrid for Stamford Bridge on a season-long loan.
“Today is a dream come true for me, you can’t imagine how happy I am,” said Courtois, who won the Golden Glove award as the World Cup’s best goalkeeper after helping Belgium finish third last month.
“Coming to the best club in the world is a responsibility and an honour. I’d like to thank Real Madrid for the efforts they’ve made, and all the people who have contributed to bringing me to play here.
“I want to show I can match the expectations this badge entails.”
Courtois signed his contract alongside Real president Florentino Perez in the corridors of the Bernabeu, and in front of the club’s record 13 European Cup trophies.
“Throughout my career, I’ve done my best at every club I’ve played for,” he added.
He will be only the second Belgian to play for the capital-city giants, after Fernand Goyvaerts, who was at Real from 1965-1967.
“Real Madrid can boast the arrival of one of the world’s best goalkeepers, if not the very best,” said Perez.
“He comes to Real Madrid at 26 years of age, but having already experienced huge success in European football.”
Courtois is expected to take over as first-choice ‘keeper from Costa Rican Keylor Navas, but says he is prepared to fight for the shirt, having had to replace Petr Cech when he returned to Chelsea from a long loan spell at Atletico Madrid in 2014, before going on to make 126 Premier League appearances for the Blues.
“It would be a mistake to give guarantees (to one of the two goalkeepers),” he said. “You have to demonstrate in training that you should play, and you have to keep it that way.
“Wherever I played, I wasn’t given guarantees. When I came to Chelsea in 2014, I had to replace Petr Cech. We became friends and today I’m still talking to him.
“Goalkeepers are a group of friends in the dressing room, we get along well, which is important in life.”
Real will be desperate to get off to a quick start this season under new coach Julen Lopetegui, after the surprise departure of Zinedine Zidane following their third straight Champions League triumph in June.
Courtois is their first major signing of the close season, although the Spanish transfer window, unlike England’s which closes at 1600 GMT on Thursday, stays open until the end of August.
Chelsea and Real Madrid agreed on Wednesday terms for the transfer of Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois subject to the agreement of personal terms and passing a medical.
The deal should now pave the way for Athletic Bilbao’s Kepa Arrizabalaga to join Chelsea for a record 80 million euro (£71.6 million, $92 million) fee for a goalkeeper.
No fee was revealed for the transfer of the Courtois, who had just one more year to run on his Chelsea contract, although Spanish media claimed that the deal is worth around 35 million euros.
Chelsea added in a statement that subject to the completion of the Courtois deal, Croatian midfielder Mateo Kovacic would join the Blues from Real on a season-long loan.
The English giants have been forced into finding a replacement for Courtois, 26, after he failed to report for pre-season training on Monday.
Courtois joined Chelsea from Genk in 2011 but spent three seasons on loan at Atletico Madrid before returning to London where he won two Premier League titles in four seasons.
And with his two children still resident in the Spanish capital, Courtois’s agent claimed earlier this week family commitments were a motivating factor in forcing a move to the European champions.
“He has made it clear to the club that the best option for him is to move to Madrid,” Christophe Henrotay told the Sun newspaper.
“For him this is a big decision because he wants to be near his family, and there is an offer in place for Chelsea to accept.”
Just weeks after Liverpool broke the record transfer fee for a goalkeeper in a deal worth up to 72.5 million euros for Brazilian international Alisson Becker, the inexperienced Arrizabalaga, 23, is now set to inherit the title of the world’s most expensive goalkeeper.
Earlier on Wednesday, Bilbao confirmed that Arrizabalaga had paid his buyout clause at the league’s headquarters in Madrid to free him from his contract with Athletic.
Arrizabalaga has played 53 times in La Liga for Bilbao over the last two seasons, and made his international debut in a 5-0 friendly win over Costa Rica in November 2017.
He was also in the Spain squad for the World Cup in Russia as back-up to David De Gea, but has yet to make his competitive debut for Spain.
But for a late change of course due to the wishes of former Real boss Zinedine Zidane, Arrizabalaga could have joined Madrid himself in January when his buyout clause was just 20 million euros.
However, after that move collapsed, he signed a new seven-year deal with the Basque side that dramatically increased his release clause and has cost Chelsea, dear.
Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois is closing in on a move to Real Madrid in a deal worth around 35 million euros ($41 million), Spanish media reported on Tuesday.
“Courtois, decision imminent”, Madrid sports daily Marca ran as its headline, claiming that the record 13-time European champions are “confident of his signing”.
“The Courtois soap opera is coming to its end. The target, who yesterday did not attend Chelsea training despite being at the end of his holidays, speeds up the process to sign for Real Madrid, an announcement that could become official in the coming hours,” Marca wrote.
Real will pay 35 million euros to bring the Belgium international, voted the best goalkeeper at the World Cup, to the Bernabeu, according to Marca.
“Courtois doesn’t come to Chelsea training”, noted Catalan daily Mundo Deportivo, for whom “his destination will be Real Madrid”.
AS, another Madrid-based sports daily, said “Chelsea give Courtois up for lost and want (Athletic Bilbao’s) Kepa Arrizabalaga to be his replacement”.
It added the Premier League club “are willing to pay the 80 million euro release clause to Athletic” for the 23-year-old Spain international.
There is also speculation that Chelsea could try to sign Atletico Madrid’s Jan Oblak.
Courtois, who spent three seasons at Atletico from 2011 to 2014, has repeatedly stated his desire to move closer to his two children in the Spanish capital.
Thibaut Courtois’ failure to report to Chelsea training has heaped pressure on new manager Maurizio Sarri to find a new goalkeeper just two days before the Premier League transfer window closes.
The 26-year-old Belgium international, linked with a move to Real Madrid, was granted an extended rest after his country finished third at the World Cup, but did not turn up for training on Monday.
The Sun newspaper reported on Tuesday that he would miss training for a second day as the impasse continued.
Courtois joined Chelsea from Belgian side Genk in 2011 and spent the next three seasons on loan at Atletico Madrid before dislodging Petr Cech as first choice at Stamford Bridge.
He has repeatedly stated his desire to move closer to his two children in the Spanish capital, and with just a year remaining on his contract, Chelsea risk losing him for a reduced fee in January or for free next summer.
Second-choice ‘keeper Willy Caballero played in goal on Sunday as Chelsea lost 2-0 to champions Manchester City in the Community Shield.
The Times said Chelsea had indicated they would accept his request for a transfer after a £35 million offer ($45 million) from Real if they could secure a replacement in time.
The Premier League’s transfer window shuts at 1600 GMT on Thursday, heaping pressure on Sarri.
The Times said Chelsea had turned their attention to Stoke City’s Jack Butland after Everton made it clear England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford was not for sale.
Eden Hazard, whose deal expires in 2020, has also long been the subject of speculation over a move to Real, but the forward was present at the club’s Cobham training base on Monday.
Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois wants a move back to Spain for family reasons, his agent said, following reports linking him with a move to Real Madrid.
The Belgian is due to return to Chelsea training over the next few days after helping his country finish third at the World Cup and being voted the best goalkeeper in Russia.
The 26-year-old former Atletico Madrid number one has a year remaining on his Chelsea contract, but agent Christophe Henrotay said Courtois wants a move to the Spanish capital to be close to his two children.
“I have been reading everywhere that Chelsea are saying it is up to Thibaut, but he has made it clear to the club that the best option for him is to move to Madrid,” Henrotay told the Sun newspaper.
“For him this is a big decision because he wants to be near his family, and there is an offer in place for Chelsea to accept.”
Courtois has a three-year-old daughter and one-year-old son from a previous relationship.
“It is understandable people might be upset because he wants to leave the club, we accept that,” Henrotay added.
“But this is a human decision based on someone wanting to be close to his children — and that is a reasonable thing too.”
Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri on Friday expressed uncertainty over the future of his goalkeeper.
“At the moment Courtois is the goalkeeper of the club, of Chelsea,” he said. “I don’t know in the future. It depends on the club. It depends especially on him, I think.
“But, I hope that Courtois will be our goalkeeper. It’s very important for us to keep the top players.”
The Croatian captain won the Golden Ball award for the World Cup’s best player despite being on the losing side to France in a thrilling final, while France’s Antoine Griezmann, who also scored his fourth goal of the tournament in the final, came third.
Modric was named man-of-the-match three times in Croatia’s seven games in Russia, but even the Real Madrid midfielder was powerless to stop France’s firepower and the rise of 19-year-old Kylian Mbappe.
The Paris Saint-Germain forward won the young player of the tournament award after scoring his fourth goal of the competition in the final, which France won 4-2.
Despite Griezmann and Mbappe getting on the scoresheet, England’s Harry Kane claimed the Golden Boot for his six goals.
Thibaut Courtois faces a defining period as the Chelsea goalkeeper juggles his bids for FA Cup and World Cup glory, while considering whether to commit his long-term future to the Blues.
Courtois has one year to run on his current Chelsea contract and a new £200,000-per-week ($269,000) deal to extend his stay at Stamford Bridge is reportedly on the table.
But the 26-year-old has been linked with Real Madrid and a move back to the Spanish capital could make sense for Courtois, who spent three years with Atletico Madrid on loan from Chelsea.
He is a regular visitor to Madrid, where his former partner Marta Dominguez lives with his children Nicolas and Adriana.
Real’s current goalkeeper Keylor Navas has endured an error-prone campaign, sparking talk of an offer for Courtois.
Earlier this season, Courtois, who joined Chelsea from Genk in 2011, wouldn’t rule out a move, telling reporters in Spain: “I have not made a decision on my future.
“I said my heart was in Madrid, because I have my two children there, and it was misinterpreted. This situation is not easy for me.
“I do not forget that Chelsea has supported me since the beginning.
“I do not think (Real Madrid president) Florentino Perez will call me, but he will call my agent who will listen to him.”
With Chelsea having failed to qualify for next season’s Champions League after finishing a disappointing fifth in the Premier League, Courtois is one of several stars whose futures with the club are now in doubt.
But before he considers whether to push for a move, Courtois has a chance to finish his domestic season on a high in Saturday’s FA Cup final against Manchester United.
The Wembley showdown offers Chelsea their last shot at silverware this term as they look to make amends for last season’s Cup final defeat against Arsenal.
Chelsea go into the final with Antonio Conte’s future in doubt following the manager’s season-long feud with the club’s hierarchy over their failure to back his transfer plans after last year’s league title triumph.
– ‘Big motivation’ –
The intense former Juventus coach has also reportedly alienated several players with his demanding training sessions.
Even beating United might not be enough to persuade Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich to keep Conte and Courtois hardly issued a vote of confidence in the Italian this week.
“It’s not about the manager, we want to win for the fans and the club,” Courtois said when asked about the significance of the final.
“If you want to win trophies, firstly, it’s for the fans. They come there every week to support you. We are ready for it.
“We have a big motivation to win. And especially because we don’t have a trophy this season.”
If Courtois leaves Wembley with his first FA Cup winner’s medal, it would be the perfect preparation for the World Cup.
Belgium head to Russia — where they face England, Panama and Tunisia in the group stage — ranked as one of the dark horses to win the tournament after assembling a squad packed with world-class talent.
But, despite the presence of Courtois, Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne and company, they have underachieved in recent years, bowing out in the quarter-finals of the 2014 World Cup and Euro 2016.
A long-awaited strong run from Belgium would set the stage for Courtois to underline his credentials as one of the world’s top keepers — and up the ante as Chelsea wait to discover if he will rebuff Real’s interest.
Chelsea rallied from a goal down to overcome Manchester City and stretch their winning sequence to eight Premier League matches.
Gary Cahill’s own goal gave City the lead but strikes from Diego Costa, Willian and Eden Hazard earned Antonio Conte’s side victory.
Chelsea fell behind when Cahill’s attempted interception looped over Thibaut Courtois but, moments after Kevin De Bruyne hit the bar, the Blues levelled.
Costa took his goal tally to 11 for the season with a turn and shot on the hour and 10 minutes later Willian produced a second, celebrating by holding aloft his armband honouring the victims of the Chapecoense air disaster.
Hazard’s late breakaway goal decided matters before Sergio Aguero and Fernandinho were sent off.
Manchester United ended a run of four straight defeats with a goalless draw against Chelsea at Old Trafford on Monday while Chelsea continued what looked like a resurgence.
Under-fire manager Louis van Gaal insists he will not quit after Manchester United extended their run without a victory to eight games in all competitions.
Sixth-placed United produced an improved display at Old Trafford, with a goalless draw with champions Chelsea.
“I think it was a very good performance but you have to score a goal and we didn’t. We hit the post twice when the keeper was beaten, then had a big chance in the second half and two penalty cases – one handball, one foul on Mata – but didn’t receive a penalty. So we are forcing the luck but still don’t have the luck we need.
“We were the dominant team, we created chances, we shot on goal and only gave three chances away. Against a team like Chelsea, with such attackers, that’s not bad.”
Van Gaal said that he was aware poor form could force a club to sack its manager, but he had the backing of the players and would fight on.
“I cannot have any influence on that (his future). I can only work with my players and you have seen that my players are fighting for me and that they have given a good performance.
“Even after this result, the fans were applauding, so I cannot say that I am very much concerned but in this football world, you never know. But I have full confidence in the board and in my players. When the players can give such a performance under this pressure, then it is not any reason to resign for me.
“Maybe the media wants that but I shall not do that. It’s not a question of staying, it’s a question of fulfilling my contract.”
Hiddink Satisfied With Draw
On the flipside, Chelsea interim manager Guus Hiddink is satisfied with Chelsea’s draw at Manchester United.
Diego Costa was suspended for the clash while fellow attackers Loic Remy and Radamel Falcao were side-lined by injury, forcing winger Eden Hazard to occupy a centre forward role.
Hiddink, says the team is still building after months of poor results. “Tactically it was okay, defensively we were well organised,” said the manager.
“We didn’t have full power to hurt Man U – as everyone knows we have some problems in the striker position due to suspension and injuries so we had to think how to solve that problem.
“Hazard has done it before and he is capable of doing it because he’s a very versatile player. I’m pleased because we had some good opportunities in the second half. Man U pressed although they didn’t create a lot of chances.
“The two best chances were tremendous saves from the goalies, De Gea and Courtois. So no win but we have to consider the situation where Chelsea were and are.”