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With Iker Casillas in serious difficulties defending his position as goalkeeper of the FIFA FIFPro World XI, the question arises who could be his successor. Maybe Thibaut Courtois, the Belgian shotstopper from Madrid’s other elite club, Atlético.


For five years in succession, Casillas was chosen by his fellow professionals as the world’s best goalkeeper. But this year he has been demoted to the Real Madrid bench, first by José Mourinho, then by his successor Carlo Ancelotti. As a consequence, it will be very tough for him to remain in contention for a sixth World XI award, even though national team manager Vicente Del Bosque still puts Casillas in goal.


One of the other 2012 nominees, Joe Hart, has also lost his job in goal. The England international finds himself warming the bench at Manchester City after some shaky performances this season.


That means that from last year’s five nominees, only three men remain undisputed at their own club: Petr Cech (Chelsea), Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich) and Gianluca Buffon (Juventus).


‘I think I belong to the five best goalkeepers in the world’, said Thibaut Courtois. ‘I am enjoying the best season in my career and I have made great progress with my reflexes, speed and experience.’


Courtois does not sound modest, yet his words are all but far from the truth. The 21-year-old Belgian international has impressed in goal of Atlético Madrid, the Spanish club that loans him from Chelsea for the third consecutive year. It is no coincidence that both Atlético and the Belgian national team have few goals scored against. Belgium even managed to qualify for the World Cup tournament for the first time since 2002, Atlético was one of the first teams to qualify for the knock-out phase of the new Champions League season.


Chelsea signed Courtois in the summer of 2011 after the teenager had helped Racing Genk to the Belgian title. The Blues expect him to be the future replacement of Petr Cech.


Recently, Courtois and his team-mates at Atlético voted for the FIFA FIFPro World XI. It is still unclear whether the Belgian youngster will make the shortlist or the World XI, but team-mates like David Villa, Díego Godin, Juanfran, Arda Turan, Tiago Mendes, João Miranda, Gabi, Koke, Cristian Rodriguez, Filipe Luis and many more won’t have many doubts which goalkeeper tops their list…


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For the latest updates about the vote for the 2012 FIFA FIFPro World XI, check the FIFPro website, the FIFPro Twitter account (#ffw11), FIFPro Flickr, or FIFPro Facebook.


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