Thibaut Courtois denies saying he did not want to play with relegated Leicester City players

During his revealing interview with Sporza, Thibaut Courtois was asked about claims that during the European Championship qualifier against Austria he had said in the dressing room that he did not want to play with players who had just been relegated. This had been said to be targeted at a number of players who had been involved in Leicester City’s relegation from the Premier League.

Courtois said ‘Not at all. I am convinced that certain players also passed on things to the media. It reinforced how I felt and what few others knew. The Real Madrid goalkeeper added ‘I have never said that players are not adequate. I have known guys like Castagne, Tielemans and Praet for a long time – they even played at the World Cup in Russia.’ However, the 31-year-old did then say ‘The only thing is – and I am not afraid to say this: if you fall behind in the match against Austria and you have relegated players in the team who have lost more matches than they have won… Then it becomes difficult to reverse that situation.‘.

This was part of a wide ranging interview in which the goalkeeper talked about why he left the Red Devils midway through the qualification campaign. After the victory over Austria, Courtois left the team before the next game against Estonia. There had been a falling out with the then recently appointed head coach Domenico Tedesco. During the interview, the goalkeeper did not hold back on his criticism of how the new head coach handled the situation.

Reaction to the interview has been mixed, with many criticising the goalkeeper for what he has said, while others have also criticised Tedesco for how he appeared to handle the situation. Either way, Courtois will not be available for the European Championships next summer in Germany. Given his recent injury, he has decided to focus on rehabilitation to be able to be fully recovered for the 2024/2025 season with Real Madrid.

Whether or not he will then return to the Red Devils set up clearly depends on if the fractured relationship between head coach and goalkeeper can be resolved within the next year. After this interview, it is unlikely to be fixed anytime soon.

GBeNeFN | Ben Jackson

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