Thibaut Courtois took the occasion of his first Real Madrid start to once again open his mouth and remove all doubt.
If any Chelsea players are ever interested in moving to the Bernabeu, they should talk to Alvaro Morata and Mateo Kovacic, not the disgruntled and disgraced goalkeeper.
Nothing like a win against the 17th-place team of the last two seasons to get the ego fired up. After two games on the bench behind Keylor Navas, Thibaut Courtois made his Real Madrid debut against Leganes.
Despite the win, Courtois will spend the foreseeable future in Madrid on the bench. Keylor Navas has done nothing to warrant being replaced and is still in his prime years.
Navas is about the same age as Petr Cech was when Courtois stomped his foot until Chelsea caved to his demands, enabling his rise to the starting spot at Stamford Bridge.
But Madrid know how to handle superstars and divas better than Chelsea. It’s what they do there. They have years of experience working with actual superstars whose performance justifies the occasional diva outburst. Courtois is no such star.
Barring injury to Navas or a stark drop in performance, then, Courtois will remain Real Madrid’s backup. This will put him in the same position Alvaro Morata and Mateo Kovacic were in.
They looked for a way off the bench and onto the pitch, which brought them to Chelsea. Any Blues tempted to follow Courtois should instead look to Morata and Kovacic.
Eden Hazard has spent plenty of time in the Real Madrid transfer rumour mill, and for a brief period over the summer Marcos Alonso joined him.
Zinedine Zidane’s resignation took much of the momentum out of Hazard’s interest in the Spanish club. But the lure of the club’s size, prestige and winning record could still attract the Belgian.
However, one of Courtois’ digs at Chelsea could backfire if he was hoping to entice Hazard. Courtois talked about the wall of people surrounding the pitch at the Bernabeu, as opposed to seeing the hotel outside the stands at Stamford Bridge.
The close-knit atmosphere of the London club is the kind of supportive environment Hazard thrives in. The closeness of the fans – physically and emotionally – to the players feeds Hazard’s sense of belonging.
He is an “arm around the shoulder” player in terms of the relationship he likes to have with his coach and the fans. The size of the stadium at Real Madrid, let alone the sharpness of the knives when they come out for a player, is one of the major reasons a move for Hazard would not work.
Even so, Hazard would be a starter at Real Madrid under any manager. Marcos Alonso, though, along with most any other Chelsea player, would be clamoring for his place in the XI. This is where Morata’s and Kovacic’s experience comes to bear.
They know that for whatever glory and prestige Real Madrid heaps upon itself, the bench is still not a fun, fulfilling place. When a footballer dreams of playing for one of the mega-clubs, they dream of just that: playing for them. Not sitting in reserve.
They should be – and usually are – willing to fight for their place in the squad. But sometimes their talent and determination just is not enough.
The manager’s tactics, the overwhelming level of talent from the galacticos or even the manager’s personal preference may keep them off the pitch through no fault of their own.
This is what led Morata to leave Real the first time for Juventus and the second time for Chelsea. It is what led Kovacic to take a loan with option to buy to Chelsea. And it is what should keep Marcos Alonso or any other future star to weigh carefully every side of a transfer to Real Madrid.
Chelsea have two players who could both find success and satisfaction at Chelsea after collecting winners’ medals but not much else at Real Madrid.
Alvaro Morata and Mateo Kovacic are cautionary tales about the bright lights of the Bernabeu. Thibaut Courtois is a cautionary tale about letting your ego get ahead of your mouth, your club and your career.
For so many reasons, Chelsea players should take advice from Morata and Kovacic over Thibaut Courtois, but particularly about life at Real Marid.
If he was capable of learning and growth, perhaps in a few years Courtois could share similar lessons. For the foreseeable future, he’ll be occupying Morata’s and Kovacic’s former spots on the bench.