The Ballon d’Or has caused some controversy in recent years with glaring omissions from shortlists and teams of the year, as well as some bizarre voting patterns and preferential treatment by coaches or players involved in the voting process. So, to try and bring some credibility back to football’s individual honours, we have created The Blog d’Or, where the writers of The Blog FC have whittled down a 50-man longlist to countdown the real best 23 players of the calendar year. The countdown continues here.
The Blog d’Or #13
Atletico Madrid & Chelsea
Leaping into number 13 in the Blog d’Or is Chelsea’s young Belgian keeper Thibaut Courtois.
It speaks volumes about Courtois’ potential that he is already considered one of the world’s best goalkeepers despite being only 22-years-old and in this growing crop of outstanding young Belgians, he is arguably at the very top.
Last season, during his third year on loan at Atletico Madrid, Courtois helped the Spanish outfit to a La Liga and a berth in the Champions League final.
His efforts were enough to convince Jose Mourinho that he was gifted enough to replace incumbent starter Petr Cech, and so he was brought back to London.
So far this season, the Belgian has helped Chelsea to one of the best defensive records in the league as they sit top of the competition heading into the run home.
Standing at 6ft 6in tall, Courtois, the son of a pair of Belgian volleyballers, is blessed with the physical capabilities some keepers can only dream of.
His impressive frame gives him the ability to command his area to an almost unprecedented level; when coming out to claim a cross this season the Belgian has a 100% success rate.
While Courtois’ towering build can leave even the best Premier League strikers threatened, his reflexes are just as intimidating.
Despite being such a big man he is incredibly agile and, when required, he can explode in any direction to pull of some frankly ridiculous saves; coupled with his ability to save with his feet, Courtois makes for an imperious presence between the sticks.
Rarely will you see a young player with the kind of calmness and control than the Belgian has as he remains unflappable in even the direst of situations in goal.
“At his age, he’s already one of the best goalkeepers in the world. He works hard every training session and wants to work. That’s the right spirit. To be honest I don’t know how he can improve his game, but he will find a way,” said Belgian teammate Jan Vertonghen during last year’s World Cup.
Astonishingly, Courtois’ impressive performances come while he is still adjusting to life in the Premier League and in Mourinho’s system.
As he becomes more confident and comfortable in Chelsea’s squad there is no telling the heights he could climb to.
Whatever happens, Courtois is determined enough to ensure we will be mentioning his name in the top tier of goalkeepers for years to come.