After the Brazil World Cup they picked off Keylor Navas. The Costa Rican had not lifted the Golden Glove award because World Cup winner Manuel Neuer had been awarded it but Navas was outstanding throughout the tournament.
Fast forward four years and on Sunday, Courtois was announced goalkeeper of the tournament. The Golden Glove winner could be available for a bargain price of around €40m (£35.2m) because he has only one year left on his Real Madrid contract, and he has told the Premier League side he has no intention of signing a new deal.
New Real Madrid coach Julen Lopetegui, a former goalkeeper, wants competition in that position for the team this year. His predecessor Zinedine Zidane rejected the club’s proposal last January to sign young Spanish keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga. He saw it as a vote of no-confidence on Navas.
Zidane’s faith in Navas was repaid as he put in outstanding performances to help the team win their third-straight Champions League.
If Courtois arrives Lopetegui will consider allowing Navas to remain as the club’s cup keeper with Courtois playing in goal for the league campaign. Barcelona did something similar when they had Claudio Bravo and Marc-Andre ter Stegen in 2015.
But if Lopetegui decides he wants Courtois as his No 1 in all competitions Navas could push for a move. Madrid signed 19-year-old Andriy Lunin from Zorya Luhansk last month and with Zidane’s son Luca and Kiko Casilla already at the club there will be overbooking if the Belgian arrives.
After his excellent World Cup ended in third place and best goalkeeper awards this weekend, Courtois was asked if his next aim was to end up at Madrid alongside Eden Hazard.
‘Eden should always be alongside me,’ he replied. ‘Where I am he should be. I take him with me.’
Both Hazard and Courtois have talked up their chances of leaving Chelsea. Real president Florentino Perez likes the club’s transfer targets to help the process along and when Courtois told Belgian magazine Sport: ‘My heart is in Madrid’ it moved to the top of the club wanted list even before a ball was kicked in Russia.
Courtois spent three happy seasons at Atletico Madrid. His two children live in the city still and he also said:
‘My two children live there with their mum. I speak to my daughter every day on Facetime. I miss them and whenever I have the opportunity, I try to make a return trip to Spain.’
A permanent return is now on the cards if Madrid can persuade Chelsea to let the 26-year-old leave.