Chelsea descended into disarray as Thibaut Courtois failed to report for pre-season training today.
Spanish giants Real Madrid recently offered $44m for his services. Chelsea rejected the offer and waited for the player to return before starting talks with him.
Now, he has made his intentions clear: he wants out of Stamford Bridge. New head coach Maurizio Sarri hoped to convince him to stay for a year but that seems unlikely.
Courtois previously spent three seasons on loan at Atletico Madrid. He has two children in the city from a former relationship. He wants the move to be closer to them, as well as for soccer reasons. Real are reigning European club champions, a crown Chelsea remain a long way from wearing.
The goalkeeper is in the final year of his contract and could leave unhindered next summer. However, he is keen to force the move through now. His agent issued a series of rebukes to Chelsea for not entering into talks with Real during recent interviews.
Courtois remains in his native Belgium and no date has been set for his return to London. Time is against Chelsea. The English transfer window for purchasing players closes on Thursday and they must sign a replacement by then.
If they don’t, Sunday’s 2-0 defeat to Manchester City made it painfully obvious that their current goalkeepers are not up to scratch.
The desperation in their situation means Chelsea will pay over the market rate for a new goalkeeper. That economics won’t please the board or club owner Roman Abramovich at all.