It seems pretty concrete that Thibaut Courtois will be leaving Chelsea this summer. The Belgian only has one year left on his current deal, and a move to Real Madrid seems likely. That begs the question, who will Chelsea sign as a replacement?
In the past few weeks, the Blues have been linked with an array of different keeping options. New manager Maurizio Sarri’s style of play is very passing-orientated, as shown by the signing of Jorginho from Napoli, and the Italian expects his goalkeeper to be of the same ilk.
A goalkeeper who can confidently play out from the back will be at top of the list to replace Courtois, so we take a look at five players who could be Chelsea’s new number one when they play Huddersfield away in a few weeks time.
The Danish goalkeeper is one of the favourites as Courtois’ replacement. Schmeichel is a Premier League winner with Leicester City, has played in the Champions League, and has come off the back of an impressive World Cup.
But, can he play out from the back?
He appeared in 33 of Leicester’s league fixtures last season, and averaged 17.03 passes a game, with a pass completion rate of 56%. The Dane also had a distribution length of 49m with an accuracy of 54%. Which could suggest that he is somewhat capable of playing short and long passes.
Since making the move to Barcelona from Ajax in 2016, Cillessen has struggled for first-team football because of Marc-Andre ter Stegen
Since it would be unfair to compare his stats from only a handful of game, we’ll look at the 2015/16 season when he was first-choice at Ajax.
During that season, he averaged 18.64 passes a game, with 65% of those being completed. In terms of long balls, he had an average distribution length of 45m and an accuracy of 69%. His stats suggest he is more suited to Sarri, but his lack of playing time could put the club off.
Another goalkeeper with Premier League experience has been linked with a move to Stamford Bridge, Stoke City’s Jack Butland could be the new number one.
It seems likely that Butland will be leaving the club following their relegation, and has rejected a move to Chelsea in the past.
Last season, he averaged 17 passes a game as he played 35 times in the league for the Potters. His pass completion rate was only 45%, however. His average distribution length was shorter than the previous two, at 39m with an accuracy of 50%. At the World Cup in Russia, Jordan Pickford was selected as England number one because of his ability to pass out from the back, unlike Butland.
Young Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma is another to be linked as a replacement for Courtois.
Despite only being a 19-year-old, he’s made over 100 Serie A appearances for AC Milan after making his debut as only a 16-year-old.
Out of all the goalkeepers being compared, Donnarumma boasts the best average passes per game with 18.82 and a completion rate of 79%. His average distribution length is the shortest out of the five at only 21m, with an accuracy of 78%. His tendency to pass short could play into Sarri’s hands, however, as he likes his teams to play out from the back.
And the final goalkeeper we’re taking a look at is PSG’s Alphonse Areola.
His future in the French capital could be over, after the Ligue 1 champions signed Gianluigi Buffon from Juventus earlier this summer, and could make a move to the Premier League.
Out of the goalkeepers we’ve compared, he averages the least amount of passes per game with 12.32. However, he averages the best pass completion rate with 91%. Similarly to Donnarumma, the Frenchman opts to pass shorter with an average distribution length of 23m. His accuracy is also very good and has a distribution accuracy of 92%. He could be a very good option, should be available.
So, who should Chelsea opt for?
All five goalkeepers on this list are all top quality goalkeepers. If Chelsea want to replace Courtois with a goalkeeper who is primed for Sarriball, I believe they should go for Donnarumma or Areola. Both are young, 19 and 25 years old respectively, and would be good replacements for the Belgian. They might be more expensive than the other three, but it is a much-needed investment.
Failing that, the club are signing Rob Green.
All stats used in this article sourced from Squawka.