Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has, according to reports, made up his mind to replace Petr Cech with the brilliant Thibaut Courtois next season. The Portuguese coach had undoubtedly made the right decision - although Cech remains a superb goalkeeper in his own right, he is not at the same world-class level as the young Belgian.
Mourinho’s decision will, of course, have consequences. Cech is still only 31 years old and will not be prepared to play second-fiddle to someone a decade younger. The Czech Republic international is used to playing week in, week out, but runs the risk of being reduced to the role of cup-game ‘keeper in the same way Iker Casillas is used at Real Madrid these days.
Casillas has done himself a complete disservice by hanging around at the Bernabeu - even though the successful Spain international will have the chance to lift another European Cup later this month - and Cech simply mustn’t allow himself to go down the same route.
Many of Europe’s best clubs would gladly take Cech away from Stamford Bridge this summer. But the manager who should be at the very front of the queue, chequebook in hand, is Arsenal’s Arsene Wenger.
Wojciech Szczesny has enjoyed a fairly decent campaign, but it would be tantamount to a crime to mention him in the same breath as Cech, who still has at least another six, seven or maybe even eight years left at the very top level.
Szczesny has benefitted from the excellent centre-back pairing of Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny ahead of him over the past 18 months, but there have been moments this season when the Poland international has still managed to look suspect - particularly away from the Emirates Stadium.
Having Cech between the sticks instead would breed confidence throughout the Gunners’ team every time they take to the pitch. This is a goalkeeper who has been widely regarded as one of the world’s greatest for the best part of 10 years now - and has won three Premier League titles, four FA Cups, a Europa League and a Champions League winners’ medal during that time.
Put simply: he is a tremendous goalkeeper and a winner. Chelsea will need to let him go this summer because, in the form of Courtois, they have the best in the business - sending him back out to Atletico Madrid for a fourth season simply isn’t an option. But Cech would have the Chelsea supporters’ blessing to continue his career over in north London.
Arsenal may well end the season with the FA Cup - their nine-year trophy drought finally brought to an end - but ensuring the silverware continues to flow will only happen with Szczesny out of goal, and Cech in it.