According to Spanish newspaper Marca, the Belgian goalkeeper has already told friends and family he will be moving to Real Madrid this summer.
Los Blancos have spent the last three transfer windows in pursuit of Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea, but are now thought to have given up on the former Atletico man to target one of his successors at the Vicente Calderon in Courtois.
Chelsea sent Courtois on loan to Diego Simeone’s side for three years and the goalkeeper even helped Atletico knock his parent club out of the 2014 Champions League semi-final, starting both legs of a 3-1 aggregate win.
That was enough for the Blues to promote him to first choice later in the year and send Petr Cech to rivals Arsenal at the end of the 2014/15 season.
But Courtois, who has a Spanish girlfriend, loves Madrid as a city and is determined to move back, whether in the white shirt of Real or the red and white stripes of Atletico.
In September he said he would definitely return to Spain some time in his career, telling Marca: “When I left Spain, I knew that I would return one day.”
And he suggested he may leave Chelsea for free in 2018, saying: “I have a contract with Chelsea for the next three seasons. In 2018, when I’m in the last year of my contract, I’ll evaluate whether it makes more sense to stay or to go.”
Real Madrid are happy with current goalkeeper Keylor Navas but would prefer to have the Costa Rican as second choice with a bigger name starting regularly.
Roman Abramovich will not give up on Courtois without a fight and has reportedly enlisted some of the most popular faces in the Chelsea dressing room to convince the goalkeeper his future lies at Stamford Bridge.
But Courtois’ mind is said to be made up with Marca reporting that he is “close to certain to be in Real Madrid colours at the start of the 2017/18 campaign”.
Heading the other way could be Galacticos attacking midfielder James Rodriguez, but Chelsea are said to be unwilling to meet Real Madrid’s £60m valuation for the Colombian.