Chelsea vs Atletico Madrid, as Uefa warn Blues over Courtois
The Champions League semi-final draw offers an intriguing number of options for the final
CHELSEA have been drawn against Spanish league leaders Atletico Madrid in the semi-finals of the Champions League, and already there is controversy over the participation of Atletico goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, who is on loan in Spain from Chelsea.
It is believed that under the terms of his loan deal, Atletico will have to pay Chelsea a fee if they pick Courtois to face his parent club. The cost to the Spanish club could be as much as £5m, a fee that they have said they cannot afford.
However, Uefa have entered the fray and warned Chelsea that any "attempt to exert any influence whatsoever over the players that another club may field in a match" is forbidden under European football rules.
The BBC interprets that as a message to the London club that any contractual agreement concerning the eligibility of the Belgian shotstopper is "null, void and unenforceable".
"The warning came in an extraordinary statement from the European governing body made just hours before Chelsea were drawn against the Spanish league leaders in the last four of the competition," reports The Times.
Chelsea chief executive Ron Gourlay insisted, after the draw, that Chelsea would not seek to prevent Courtois from playing, but did not deny that his selection could trigger a fee.
Earlier Atletico president Enrique Cerezo had said that the fee for playing the outstanding young keeper would be "a number we can't afford to pay".
"The Courtois situation is just one aspect of a semi-final laced with tantalising sub plots," adds the Times. "Diego Costa, the Atletico striker, is reputed to be top of Chelsea's shopping list this summer. Costa would likely be replacing Fernando Torres, an Atletico idol and supporter, who is out of favour at Chelsea."
The other semi final pits defending champions Bayern Munich against Atletico's local rivals Real Madrid.
The draw raises the possibility of an all-Madrid final between Real and Atletico, a clash between Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho and his former club Real, or a showdown between the Portuguese and his old rival Pep Guardiola, now manager of Bayern.