Atletico Madrid president Enrique Cerezo has suggested that on-loan goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois will not play against parent club Chelsea in their upcoming Champions League semifinal unless the two sides reach an agreement beforehand.
Cerezo originally said after Atletico had qualified for the last four of the competition by eliminating Barcelona that a clause in the loan deal mandated the payment of a “large sum” should Courtois play against the Blues, with widespread reports claiming the amount was around three million euros a game.
However, UEFA reacted to the speculation by issuing a statement ahead of the semifinal draw, saying that such clauses were against the “integrity of sporting competition” and were “null, void and unenforceable” as far as the governing body was concerned.
Speaking before Courtois again excelled as Atletico stretched their lead at the top of La Liga to three points with a 2-0 win at Getafe on Sunday, Cerezo told AS that as a “gentleman” he would not force the Belgium international to play against Chelsea’s wishes, while the club do not want to jeopardise another potential loan agreement for next season either.
“I do not know how many times I have repeated it,” Cerezo said. “Courtois is a Chelsea player. We are trying to get him on loan for another season. I believe he will end up playing against them, but only if we reach an agreement with Chelsea. We are gentlemen and we stick to everything we sign.”
Pushed for more details on how he expects the situation to be resolved, Cerezo said he believes an agreement will be reached, but if not then back-up keeper Dani Aranzubia will play in goal for the two games.
“I do not know,” he said. “I believe he will play, but because there is an agreement between both parties. If he does not play, Aranzubia will do so.”
At Saturday’s pregame news conference, Atletico coach Diego Simeone claimed not to have spoken with Cerezo or anyone else about whether Courtois would be made available for what is the club’s first European Cup semifinal in 40 years.
“Nobody has told me anything about the keeper,” Simeone said. “Until someone tells me whether he can play or not, I cannot comment.”