Antonio Conte could arrive as Chelsea manager with no clear idea of who will be his No 1 goalkeeper as clouds hang over the future of both Thibaut Courtois and Asmir Begovic.
The Italian, who will take charge at Stamford Bridge after finishing his Euro 2016 mission, already has spoken to both players as part of a series of meetings with the Blues players at Cobham training ground last week.
However, the futures of both Courtois and Begovic are still to be decided ahead of the summer transfer window, according to a report from the Daily Telegraph, albeit for different reasons.
23-year-old Courtois has been Chelsea’s first-choice keeper since his sensational return from a three-year loan spell at Atletico Madrid at the start of last season.
The Belgian was as expected largely impressive in his first season at Stamford Bridge as Chelsea won the Premier League title, performances that convinced the Stamford Bridge hierarchy to sell club great Petr Cech to Arsenal against former manager Jose Mourinho’s wishes.
However, Courtois had to miss 17 games at the start of the season following a knee injury and since returning has seemed far from his best, much like the rest of Chelsea’s defending champions squad.
The Belgian goalkeeper has been linked with a potential move to Real Madrid all season and even reignited rumours that he is considering his Stamford Bridge future while on International duty after making some loose comments. His comments to prefer playing behind his international defence line than his club’s back four sparked a fresh controversy.
Real Madrid in the meantime made an enquiry for the highly-rated keeper last summer but were rocked back by Chelsea with a rumoured price of around £73million – a fee the La Liga giants would not match at the moment.
But Real Madrid are keen to sign a new long-term No 1. Manchester United’s David De Gea also continues to be linked, however the interest over the past few weeks has died down and now Courtois has emerged as an extremely attractive target.
A strong performance at Euro 2016 could tempt Real to make a big offer.
Meanwhile, Begovic will enter the summer hoping a greater clarification on his future at the club. The Bosnian deputised very well for injured Courtois between September and December but has played only twice since Guus Hiddink took interim charge.
The 28-year-old former Stoke City shotstopper is believed to be demanding more first-team football.
The Chelsea hierarchy, obviously, would not want to get rid of Begovic without knowing where Courtois’ future lies.
The upcoming summer window looks to be an extremely significant one for the soon-to-be deposed Premier League champions. There are still persistent rumours roaming around over the futures of Diego Costa, Eden Hazard and others.
John Terry is expected to leave soon and the new incoming boss Antonio Conte will have a sizeable task in order to knit together a new squad.