Thibaut Courtois is not the first player to force a transfer away from a club, he’s not even the first Chelsea player to have done so within the last year. It’s a boring topic, isn’t it – yes, we all know players are too powerful now and, yes, everyone also appreciates that clubss aren’t exactly restrained by loyalty when it suits them not to be.
Nevertheless, this situation also never becomes any less tedious. In Courtois’s case, this was the second time he’d employed such a tactic, using the same no-show routine in an attempt to grease his original move to Chelsea from Genk in 2009. It worked then, too.
It’s important to be realistic and recognise that, unfortunately, this is how the game works. That doesn’t mean that it has to be tolerated, though, and it’s extraordinary that football’s response to these situations amounts to little more than shrugging acceptance. After all, think of what it really represents: a player doesn’t get his own way so, in the abstract, he locks his bedroom door and refuses to come out until his parents bend to his demands. It’s brattish. Worse, it sets a behavioural precedent which is inevitably followed by others.
Chelsea’s great wealth makes them nobody’s idea of a victim and, it should be noted, they’ve wasted little time in breaking the transfer-record for a goalkeeper to replace Courtois, signing Athletic Bilbao’s Kepa for nearly £71m. But that really isn’t the point: the unwillingness to at least attempt to calmly reach a resolution without resorting to this suggests a chronic lack of maturity, one endemic within the game. Courtois’s contract situation has been a long running saga, but nothing instructed his recent behaviour other than his desire to play for a different club – there was no (reported) acrimony between the two parties, no falling-out which made this inevitable.
He didn’t want to play for them anymore, so he just stopped turning up; how can that be right?
It’s trite to compare football world with civilian life, it’s been done far too often and it serves no real purpose, but this kind of incident just emphasises how far detached the game now is from its moorings. Becoming jaded by this kind of thing is entirely normal, but nobody should ever stop hating or speaking out against it.