Newspaper article International New York Times

Chelsea Loan Could Come Back to Cost It in the End ; Goalkeeper Is Shining in Madrid While under Contract to London Club

Newspaper article International New York Times

Chelsea Loan Could Come Back to Cost It in the End ; Goalkeeper Is Shining in Madrid While under Contract to London Club

Article excerpt

When Chelsea loaned goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois to Atletico Madrid, it could not have imagined the teams would meet in a Champions League semifinal.

Imagine that you own an unusually large number of sand buckets. You have so many, in fact, that when you go to the beach one morning, someone immediately asks if they can borrow one, and you happily agree. It is one fewer to carry, after all, and you probably would not have used it anyway.

But later that day, there is a sand-castle contest. And as you near the end of the contest, you look up and see that, very clearly, the two best castles are yours and the one made by the person to whom you lent the bucket. In truth, the other person's castle design -- especially the towers, which require expert bucket dexterity -- is so good that it may well win when it is completed.

Now here's the question: Is it reasonable for you to tell the other person not to use your bucket while in direct competition with you?

This version of lender's remorse is essentially the issue that has lingered over Tuesday's Champions League semifinal, ever since Atletico Madrid and Chelsea were drawn against each other.

Atletico's Belgian goalkeeper, Thibaut Courtois, is actually a Chelsea player who has been lent to the Spanish club for the past three years. For the most part, this has not been a problem. But with the clubs facing each other in the final stages of Europe's biggest tournament, the awkwardness of the Courtois situation has shined a light on the entire system of player loans.

"The loan system is very unique and can be very valuable to teams and players," said Richard Motzkin, the executive vice president at the Wasserman Media Group, which represents a number of top American players, including Tim Howard, Landon Donovan and Sacha Kljestan. "But sometimes things get tricky," Motzkin added.

In general, there are two types of players lent: veterans who do not fit with their club and are in need of a new place to play; or talented youngsters who would be better served getting regular playing time elsewhere instead of sitting on the bench for their parent club. …

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