Marcus Bettinelli has publicly addressed the transfer speculation linking him with a potential move to Chelsea, with the Fulham goalkeeper admitting it was "lovely" to be mentioned in connection with such a reputable club but insisting that it would not be a suitable transfer at this stage of his fledgling career.
Bettinelli, 23, has earned plaudits for a number of confident and assured performances since establishing himself as first choice between the posts at Craven Cottage in the aftermath of a successful season-long loan spell with Accrington Stanley.
The England youth international, part of Gareth Southgate's squad for the U21 European Championships in the Czech Republic earlier this summer, made 39 appearances in the Championship last term as club favourite Kit Symons guided Fulham to a mediocre but safe 17th-place finish following a farcical start under the management of Felix Magath.
With Chelsea having sanctioned the sale of Petr Cech to Arsenal, reports from The Times, as reported by Metro in July, suggested the reigning Premier League champions had been scouting Bettinelli for quite some time and were believed to have submitted a meagre £2.5m ($3.1m) offer for his services.
But the formidable presence of Thibaut Courtois and subsequent arrival of Asmir Begovic from Stoke was always likely to provide a huge hurdle to Bettinelli featuring with any sort of regularity under manager Jose Mourinho, and he would most likely have been forced to compete with Jamal Blackman for the title of third-choice 'stopper or alternatively be sent back to the Football League on loan.
Instead of making the short trip across west London, the player instead chose to sign a new four-year deal at Fulham over the weekend and it is a decision that was obviously taken sensibly with his long-term future in mind.
"There was always that speculation with Chelsea, but I did not want to be sat on the bench," he was quoted as saying by the London Evening Standard. "It would have been silly to stop playing now and go and be a number three. It was lovely to be linked with Chelsea, one of the biggest clubs in the world, but this was always the place for me."
Bettinelli has started in all three of Fulham's opening games of the 2015-16 season to date. He managed to keep a clean sheet during the League Cup victory away to League Two outfit Wycombe Wanderers but Symons's side are yet to taste victory in the Championship having drawn with Cardiff on the opening day before suffering a late defeat at home to early pacesetters Brighton on 15 August courtesy of a Tomer Hemed penalty.
Chelsea, meanwhile, have begun the new campaign in uncharacteristically nervy fashion and followed a disappointing home draw against Swansea with a resounding 3-0 loss at title rivals Manchester City.