Chelsea will accept a fee of €24m for their Belgian international Thibaut Courtois who has no intention of returning to Stamford Bridge next summer, Spanish reports suggest.
Courtois has carved a reputation as perhaps the best goalkeeper in Spain with Atletico Madrid, where the 21-year-old has spent the last three seasons on loan from the Premier League side.
His performances have been one of the reasons behind Atletico's resurgence over the past year and his influential role was highlighted last season when he was awarded the Ricardo Zamora Award for the most impressive goals conceded to games ratio as Atletico finished with the best defensive record in the league.
His performances have seen him heavily linked with the soon to be vacant role at the Nou Camp. After Victor Valdes announced his intention this summer to leave the club at the end of his contract, a flurry of speculation as to who would replace the long-serving Spaniard erupted.
Courtois has frequently been top of that list but it had been thought Barcelona would face an insurmountable task of prising the Belgian away from his long term Chelsea commitment.
However, Spanish newspaper Sport suggest the Blues are coming around to the idea of cashing in on the goalkeeper with the immovable presence of Petr Cech likely to block Courtois' first team hopes for the foreseeable future.
It is suggested that Atletico club owner Miguel Angel Gil has been told by Chelsea that they will agree to sell Courtois to the Madrid club this summer for a fee of €24m.
But having established a good working relationship with Barcelona during their negotiations over David Villa's move to the Vicente Calderon, Sport suggest Atletico would be willing to sell the Belgian shot stopper on to the Catalan giants for a similar fee.
Chelsea's grip on a goalkeeper widely regarded as one of the best young shot stoppers in Europe alongside Manchester United's David De Gea would appear to be loosening, after he declared he will only return to Chelsea to play as their number one.
"I want to play, I will not be sitting on the bench," Courtois was quoted as saying by the Independent.
"At Atletico I feel great and being here allows me to play in the Champions League, I've grown a lot at Atletico, especially last season when we won the European Super Cup and the Copa del Rey.
"I've made great progress, especially in terms of speed, reflexes and experience. I am in my best form and I feel like I am among the five best goalkeepers in the world."
Borussia Monchengladbach's Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Liverpool's out-on-loan 'keeper Pepe Reina have also been linked with the soon to be vacant role at the Nou Camp, but Courtois' irresistible rise in Spain's top flight places him firmly at the top of the list.
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