- Champions League
Courtois will play against Chelsea, says Atletico president
Atletico Madrid president Enrique Cerezo has suggested that on-loan goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois will play against Chelsea in the upcoming Champions League semi-finals, but only if the two clubs reach an agreement beforehand.
Cerezo himself said after Atletico qualified for the last four by eliminating Barcelona that a clause in the loan deal mandated the payment of a "large sum" should Courtois play against parent club Chelsea, with widespread media reports putting the amount at around €3 million per game.
UEFA reacted to these reports by issuing a statement ahead of the semi-final draw, saying that any such clauses were against the "integrity of sporting competition" and were "null, void and unenforceable" as far as UEFA was concerned.
Speaking before Courtois again excelled as the La Liga leaders stretched their lead to three points with a 2-0 win at Getafe on Sunday evening, Cerezo told AS that as a "gentleman" he would not force the Belgium international to play against Chelsea's wishes, and also because the La Liga outfit did want to jeopardise another potential loan agreement for next season.
"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. I am convinced that he will play because there will be an agreement between Atletico Madrid, Chelsea and the goalkeeper."
Pushed for more details on how he expected the situation to be resolved, Cerezo said he believed some agreement would be reached, but if not back-up Dani Aranzubia would 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 pre-game 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 are his club's first European Cup semi-finals 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."