Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois has reportedly informed new manager Maurizio Sarri that he wants to leave the club, with reigning European champions Real Madrid widely believed to be the Belgian's destination of choice after months of ongoing speculation.
Sarri explained after Chelsea's defeat in the Community Shield on Sunday that he would be talking to Courtois in person when the towering stopper returned to training on Monday following a post-World Cup break, having only conversed via telephone up to now.
Citing 'sources close to the club,' ESPN has claimed that the outcome of that meeting was Courtois telling Sarri that he wants to move on.
The 26-year-old is thought to be keen on returning to Madrid, having previously spent three years on loan at Atletico and where his two children are still based.
Taking to Twitter around an hour after the ESPN report was published, Belgian journalist Kristoff Terreur declared that Courtois hadn't yet had a 'personal meeting' with Sarri, although he also added that the player's desire to leave is 'quite clear.'
Whether Courtois had already informed Sarri by telephone that he intends to leave the club or if ESPN's story was slightly premature remains to be seen. Either way, the Belgian appears to be angling for a move, leaving Chelsea only three days to source a replacement.
Even if Chelsea do not manage to find a new goalkeeper before Thursday's transfer deadline for Premier League clubs, the transfer window remains open for teams across Europe, meaning that Real and Courtois could still apply pressure for three weeks more to make his exit happen.
Chelsea will begin their 2018/19 Premier League campaign against Huddersfield on Saturday.