By Akinwale Kasali
Thibaut Courtois was unveiled today as a Real Madrid player under the usual pomp and circumstance, including a press conference and a presentation in the stadium in front of thousands(?) of fans, and the former Chelsea and Atlético Madrid-man wasted no time in showing where his true loyalties lie.
While in terms of Chelsea, Courtois kissing the Real Madrid badge on his unveiling is about as meaningless as badge kisses get — we’re clearly under no delusions that Chelsea was a place he loved to be anymore — but given that his name is enshrined on a plaque in Atlético’s “Walk of Legends”, their fans might not take too kindly to this newest development.
“My objective was to come here. I have maximum respect for Atletico but now I’m at a club that I have always wanted to be at. I don’t think I’ve ever kissed a badge before. […] I dreamed of this moment when I was a kid. I have been a rival player here. Now I’m one of yours and I cant wait to wear the badge”
“This is the best club in the world,” added Courtois, who signed for Chelsea in June 2011 from Genk. The Belgian was immediately sent on loan to Atletico Madrid, where he played until 2014 before returning as the Blues’ number one.
On Monday Courtois was absent from Chelsea’s Cobham training ground, where he was due to take part following his involvement at the World Cup.
Courtois was voted best goalkeeper at the tournament in Russia, where Belgium beat England in a third-place play-off.
“I hope you understand that being close to my kids was considerable in my decision.”
Midfielder Kovacic, 24, had been at Real for three seasons since joining from Inter Milan and helped Croatia reach the final of the World Cup.
“I am really happy and excited to be here. It is an amazing feeling,” Kovacic told Chelsea’s website.
“I will try to do my best for this club. It is a new league for me, the beginning is always tough but I am sure the coach and my new team-mates will help me and I am looking forward to a great season.”