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Courtois casts doubt on Chelsea future

Thibaut Courtois

Thibaut Courtois, Chelsea FC

AP Images for International Cham

These words will not be taken kindly by fans of Chelsea.

Star goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, 23, is currently on international duty with Belgium but has thrown his future at Stamford Bridge into considerable doubt.

[ MORE: Cruyff most influential in history ]

Speaking with Belgian outlet RTBF, Courtois was asked if he will be at Chelsea next season as the reigning Premier League champs are all but certain of not being in the UEFA Champions League after a disastrous campaign.

“I don’t know,” Courtois said. “I still have a contract for three years so we’ll see what Chelsea want too.”

So, Chelsea, Courtois has well and truly thrown the ball into your court as he also spoke of his disappointment about failing to regain the PL, plus exiting the FA Cup and Champions League in recent weeks.

The former Genk goalkeeper joined Chelsea as a 19-year-old back in 2011 and subsequently joined Atletico Madrid for two years on loan as he won the La Liga crown under Diego Simeone in 2013-14.

He then returned to Chelsea following the 2014 World Cup and in his first season as a first-team player in west London he won the Premier League after ousting Petr Cech as the starting goalkeeper.

[ VIDEO: Highlights from Cruyff’s career ]

However with Jose Mourinho now fired and Chelsea falling on tough times on the pitch this season, it seems like Courtois may not want to hang around and be part of the rebuilding project.

Antonio Conte is reported to be the new man coming in at Chelsea, but he may be left with Asmir Begovic as the first-choice goalkeeper should Courtois decide to move on. What’s that, Conte should use his contacts at Juventus to lure Gianliuigi Buffon to the Premier League? Settle down. Although, that would be cool...

Despite missing a big chunk of the early months of this season with injury, Courtois has once again shown his qualities and he will be on the wishlist of Europe’s top teams should he become available. After Manuel Neuer and David de Gea he is probably the third-best goalkeeper on the planet right now. Speaking with contacts in Belgium last week, it’s clear that Courtois still admires the coaching staff, fans and players at Atletico. Is he yearning for a move back to Spain?

[ MORE: Players, clubs react to Cruyff’s death ]

The big question is: if Courtois goes this summer, who else will follow him out of the door? His Belgian teammate Eden Hazard? Or perhaps both Courtois and Diego Costa will head back to Atletico Madrid?

Expect a monumental rebuild of Chelsea’s squad this summer if Conte does arrive, and judging by these comments Courtois could well be on the his way out.

Could Courtois departing spark a mini-exodus as Chelsea’s stars seek UCL action?

Follow @JPW_NBCSports