Mark Schwarzer contract raises doubts about Cech and Courtois future

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After Chelsea handed veteran goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer a new one-year contract, doubts must surely now be raised about the respective futures of Petr Cech and Thibaut Courtois heading into the new campaign.

Schwarzer's extension intimates that he will continue as back-up next term, meaning that one of Cech or Courtois will leave Stamford Bridge before the close of the transfer window.

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The Blues are in a unique position in that they have within their ranks two world-class stoppers, neither of whom will be content to sit and warm the bench in 2014/15.

Over the past three seasons they have temporarily solved the conundrum by allowing Courtois to take in an extended loan spell at Atletico Madrid; a perfect opportunity for the Belgium international to gain experience of regular first-team football.

Courtois has excelled in Spain

However, the 22-year-old has developed far quicker than anyone at Chelsea would've predicted, having established himself as one of the brightest prospects in world football.

Jose Mourinho is now faced with an unenviable task of choosing between the young pretender and his tried and tested custodian - who is yet to show any real signs of decline - for the number one spot next season.

Atletico Madrid's failed attempts to bring Courtois back to Spain for a fourth consecutive campaign suggests that the former Genk star will return to west London, presumably to replace Cech as Chelsea's first-choice goalkeeper.

It's now or never...

With just two years remaining on the five-year contract he signed with the club in 2011, Chelsea are facing a 'now or never' situation, with the likelihood that failure to present Courtois with the chance to nail down his place in the team will result in a high-profile departure without ever having made a first-team appearance.

With one eye on the long-term future, promoting Courtois now seems like the sensible decision. But demoting Cech to No.2 will surely have negative repercussions as well, particularly given the fact that he is still capable of playing at the highest level.

At 32, the Czech Republic international is not ready to begin the winding down phase of his career, and could realistically establish himself as first-choice goalkeeper at any number of elite level clubs. Options in England might prove limited, but the Chelsea man wouldn't be short on offers abroad.

Alternatively, Mourinho might think that Cech still has many years ahead of him in a Chelsea shirt, and so could allow Courtois to join Atletico Madrid permanently - a transfer that would strengthen their relationship with the Spanish club, and help them in their alleged attempts to lure other players from the Vicente Calderon this summer.

What happens next?

Either way, yesterday's confirmation that the 41-year-old Australian will still be a fixture at Stamford Bridge for one more year seems like an acknowledgment that Chelsea will not be able to keep both Courtois and Cech next season.

Blues fans must now start to prepare for the inevitable fact that one of their world class goalkeepers will leave this summer, with Schwarzer secured as competent cover ahead of highly rated youth team starlets Jamal Blackman and Mitchell Beeney in third reserve.

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Mark Schwarzer
Petr Cech
Premier League

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