Football

Petr Cech is no longer Chelsea's best 'keeper

Thibaut Courtois is one of the hottest young keepers on the planet, having won the Belgian league, Spanish Copa del Rey, the Europa League and UEFA Super Cup at the age of just 21. And despite having never played at Stamford Bridge, he is on Chelsea's books and many think already better than Petr Cech.

Courtois has been playing his football far away from Stamford Bridge, in the capital of Spain. Having moved to Atlético Madrid on loan to replace the departing David de Gea in 2011, Courtois has racked up 77 appearances in goal with his Madrid side, winning impressive honours in the process.

Once again, the 21-year-old saved his side as he made a great reaction save in Atletico's league win over Real Sociedad on Sunday.

Not only did the Belgian set a new La Liga record last season with 20 clean sheets, but he also won the Copa del Rey with a great performance against new Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho.

That prompted speculation that Mourinho might opt to keep his former city rival in his Chelsea squad. Mark Schwarzer was brought in by the new boss to back up Cech, however, and Atlético fans got the perfect news after the departure of Radamel Falcao - that their solid pair of hands were back for another year.

Now was Mourinho wrong not to put more faith in Courtois? I believe he was.

Petr Cech has been the best goalkeeper in the Premier League since his arrival in 2004. In the Czech’s first season, Chelsea set a Premier League record with the fewest goals ever conceded in a season as they won the title.

Last year, however, things were very different. Chelsea conceded 39 goals, much more than the 15 conceded in that 2004/05 season, Yes, injuries to John Terry and Gary Cahill played their part, but Cech was not as impressive as he had been in previous seasons.

To bring Courtois in and make Cech really fight for that place in the starting line-up would have seemed like a very reasonable move. Cech himself knows how impressive his young understudy is and that the Belgian threatens his long-term future at the club. He described him as "one of the best talents in European football" and went on to say:

"I think this is the reason why Chelsea bought him [to be their No.1], but on the other hand obviously I would like to play here for as long as I could which means I need to be better than him."

With Courtois looking to have a first-team spot on a team as he competes with Liverpool's Simon Mignolet to be Belgium's number 1 in Brazil next summer and with Mourinho perhaps keen to stick to what he knows in his first year back in the Premier League, it's easy to understand why Courtois was sent back out to develop at Madrid for another year.

With Atlético looking like one of Europe's strongest teams this season - even without Falcao - it will be interesting to compare the performances of the two in this season's Champions League.

Mourinho will have a tough choice to make next summer. A tough one, but it's a fantastic problem to have.

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Topics:
Petr Cech
Football
Chelsea

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