When Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger criticized the loan system last week in how it was giving Chelsea and Manchester City an unfair advantage in the title race, most fans and writers rolled their eyes at the comments.
But the loan system is coming under renewed scrutiny after the Atletico Madrid president said that Thibaut Courtois will not play against Chelsea should they be drawn together in Friday’s Champions League semifinal draw.
Courtois, who is on loan at Atletico from Chelsea, has once again been brilliant this season for Los Rojiblancos and is one of the major reasons why Atletico are top of La Liga and in the Champions League semi-finals.
Atletico president Enrique Cerezo has told Spanish radio Onda Cero that “a large quantity of money”, which AS reports to be three million euros per match, would need to be paid to Chelsea as per the two clubs’ loan agreement.
“The problem is whether Courtois can play if we get Chelsea in the draw,” he said. “There is something in the contract. For him to play we would have to pay a large quantity of money, a figure we cannot pay.”
UEFA rules prevent players being barred from featuring against other clubs, but European football’s governing body cannot stop such clauses being inserted into loan agreements.
If Courtois cannot play then Atletico would be forced to play their back-up goalkeeper Dani Aranzubia, who has only played twice this season. In Aranzubia’s most recent appearance, Atletico lost 2-0 to Almeria, and he was at fault for both goals and was sent off.
Whether it is the semi-final or final, if Chelsea get to play Atletico without Courtois that is a huge advantage to Jose Mourinho’s side and makes a mockery of the Champions League being the best tournament in the world.