Petr Cech will go down as one of the greatest goalkeepers in Chelsea’s history - perhaps even the very best - although it’s entirely plausible that the Czech Republic international has played his final competitive match for the Blues.
Jose Mourinho intends to allow Cech to warm the bench next season - even if he hasn’t admitted it - but the world-class goalkeeper should try his hardest to force a move to Real Madrid in order to avoid that humiliating predicament.
Real Madrid searching for goalkeeper
The Spanish giants have reportedly decided that Diego Lopez - the club’s current first-choice keeper - will be allowed to leave the Bernabeu. Bizarrely, Mourinho is believed to be interested in the 32-year-old, who the Portuguese coach initially brought into the fold during his time coaching the ten-time European champions.
Real Madrid have still not completed the signing of Levante’s Keylor Navas, who shone at the World Cup finals with Costa Rica, and are subsequently still on the hunt for a new first-choice goalkeeper. Iker Casillas, despite the fact he remains a hero in the eyes of the club’s supporters, showed at the World Cup that he is now way past his best and no longer a serious contender for the number one jersey.
Cech still a class act
But Cech, even though he turned 32 in May, remains at the peak of his powers. He was named in the PFA Premier League Team of the Year last season and can consider himself extremely unfortunate to lose his first-team spot to Thibaut Courtois.
Last month Cech’s agent, Viktor Kolar, revealed that both Paris Saint-Germain and AS Monaco were interested in his client’s services. He also threatened Mourinho that he would contact Real Madrid and Barcelona if he decided that Cech was suddenly surplus to requirements.
Watch: Petr Cech in action
Courtois will be Chelsea's No. 1
Mourinho recently insisted that he plans to keep both Cech and Courtois at the club, while adding that he wasn’t afraid of causing upset if necessary.
That Courtois has agreed to return to Stamford Bridge is more than enough evidence to suggest the Belgium international is now Chelsea’s number one goalkeeper, leaving Cech facing a sustained period of time on the subs’ bench.
This threatens to destabilise the harmony inside the Chelsea dressing room. Cech is a popular and respected member of the Blues’ playing squad and there will be those who believe the Czech star has been treated incredibly unfairly.
Mourinho will learn from lessons of the past
The same thing happened to Mourinho in his final season at Real Madrid - and it proved to be the beginning of the end for the Portuguese coach at the Bernabeu.
He knows that, for the good of the team, Cech will need to leave Stamford Bridge. Admitting that to the fans is simply not worth the hassle.
Mourinho must be hoping that Courtois, who is probably the world’s best goalkeeper alongside Manuel Neuer right now, produces a series of heroic performances in the opening weeks of the campaign up until the final days of the transfer window, when it will be easier to sell Cech without risking supporter backlash.
Mourinho should have been honest with Cech
He did the same with Juan Mata back in January. Chelsea supporters had accepted that the Spaniard, who had won the club’s Player of the Season award in each of the previous two campaigns, was not Mourinho’s cup of tea and no longer had a future at Stamford Bridge.
Mourinho has not been upfront with Cech who, deep down, must know the writing is on the wall for him at Stamford Bridge.
But he could go on to win many more trophies before he hangs up his gloves by joining Real Madrid, who would be foolish not to at least consider the Premier League great this summer.