LONDON, January 8 – Petr Cech will be left to choose his next club if and when the goalkeeper feels his Chelsea career is over, which opens the door to a summer bid from Arsenal.
The 32-year-old is contracted to Chelsea until 2016, but Cech may decide he wants to leave Stamford Bridge before that after falling behind Thibaut Courtois in manager Jose Mourinho’s pecking order.
Sources in Italy claim Roma want to sign Cech during this transfer window, but Mourinho insisted there was “no chance” of the Czech Republic international leaving this month after third-choice goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer joined Leicester City.
Cech’s options will be much greater in the summer, when Arsenal are set to look at their goalkeeping options again and Liverpool will attempt to replace Simon Mignolet.
Real Madrid’s bid to sign either Manchester United’s David de Gea or Tottenham Hotspur’s Hugo Lloris will also cause more movement among Europe’s top goalkeepers.
It has been widely anticipated that Mourinho and Chelsea would try to block Cech from joining Arsenal or another serious rival in the Premier League or Champions League, but that would not be the case if he asked to leave.
Cech has given Chelsea almost 11 years of superb service, winning the Premier League, Champions League, FA Cup, League Cup and Europa League with the club, and will be guaranteed a respectful exit if and when the time comes.
The fact Cech has taken his demotion to be deputy to Courtois so professionally only underlines Chelsea’s commitment to act passionately towards the player.
Mourinho has never been scared to allow players to join rival clubs, as was proved by his and Chelsea’s willingness to sell Juan Mata to Manchester United and David Luiz to Paris Saint-Germain.
Although the money was good for both players, Chelsea could easily have tried to force Mata and Luiz to clubs that would not become serious rivals in the Premier League and in Europe.
In contrast, Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy would certainly try to block Lloris from moving across North London to Arsenal if he faced losing the France international.
Arsenal’s goalkeeping situation has been thrust back up the agenda by revelations that Wojciech Szczesny will be hit with a club fine for smoking in the shower area of the dressing room after the New Year’s Day defeat to Southampton.
Telegraph Sport understands that Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger was already losing patience with Szczesny before the smoking incident and the Frenchman will now assess his goalkeeping options for the remainder of the season.
David Ospina started only his second Arsenal game since joining the club from Nice in the summer against Hull City and the Colombian is likely to be given more chances to show that he can stake a claim to be Wenger’s first-choice stopper.
Wenger is a big admirer of Cech, however, and attempted to sign him from Rennes before he joined Chelsea in 2004.
With only a year remaining on his Chelsea contract at the end of the season, Cech could be available for as little as £5m and would potentially be one of the bargains of the summer transfer window.
Staying in England, and particularly London, would be attractive to Cech, as his family are settled here and he remains convinced that he can remain one of the Premier League’s top goalkeepers for years to come.
Liverpool have put Cech high on their list of potential replacements for Mignolet, but realise they would face stiff competition for him from clubs at home and abroad that will be competing in next season’s Champions League.
Last month, Cech’s agent Viktor Kolar said: “It’s unlikely Petr will leave Chelsea in the January transfer window. The club and coach want to keep him to help win the title.
“I think Arsenal should have made an offer to him. I think Petr would be considering it. Liverpool need to strengthen their position in goal and they know Petr will be available in the summer.”
Cech has made nine appearances for Chelsea this season, including keeping a clean sheet against Watford in the FA Cup last Sunday. Courtois, though, is expected to regain his starting place against Newcastle United on Saturday after recovering from a finger injury.