LONDON, June 23 – Petr Cech is edging closer to a transfer from Chelsea to Arsenal in a move to be sanctioned reluctantly by the Premier League champions as acknowledgment of his glittering career at Stamford Bridge.
The Czech international, who has kept 162 Premier League clean sheets for Chelsea, has a year to run on his contract but had indicated a reluctance to play second fiddle to Thibaut Courtois for another season.
The 33-year-old was displaced by the Belgian last term and made only seven league appearances, in which he conceded two goals with all those games won, as José Mourinho’s side claimed the fourth title of the player’s 11-season career at the club.
Chelsea praised Cech’s professionalism last season but feared frustration at life spent largely on the sidelines would prompt him to request a move and talks were held last week after his return from international duty.
They would have been more comfortable selling Cech abroad, particularly as Paris Saint-Germain had expressed interest but the player is reluctant to uproot his family back to France where he had played at Rennes.
He made clear his priority was to remain in London, further encouraging Arsenal’s conviction he will be secured this summer.
While personal terms have effectively been agreed between Cech and Arsenal, at improved terms of around Sh15.5m (£100,000) a week but talks between the clubs continue over the fee.
Chelsea are seeking up to Sh2.3bn ( £15m) for a player who has also claimed four FA Cups, three League Cups, a European Cup and a Europa League during his time at Stamford Bridge, while Arsenal hope to pay nearer Sh1.6bn ( £10m).
Cech’s first game for Arsenal is likely to be the Community Shield against his former club at Wembley on 2 August.
He may be followed to the Emirates by his goalkeeping coach, Christophe Lollichon, who could replace Swansea City-bound Tony Roberts.
Mourinho already has Silvino Louro, one of his assistant first-team coaches, on his staff, though Chelsea could still recruit from outside.
The decision to allow Cech to leave is considered exceptional by the Chelsea hierarchy and was effectively sanctioned by Roman Abramovich despite Mourinho’s reluctance, expressed publicly towards the end of last season, to lose him to rivals and title challengers.
John Terry echoed those sentiments on Monday. “There is obviously talk of Arsenal signing Petr and, if they do get Pete, that will strengthen them for sure,” the Chelsea captain told TalkSport.
“He will save them 12 to 15 points a season. I am sure if he does leave the club, which nobody wants to see even if we understand he wants to play football, he is going to be sorely missed. He will improve whatever side he goes to.”
Arsenal finished 12 points behind Chelsea last season, when their goalkeeping duties were shared by Wojciech Szczesny and David Ospina.
The latter may leave if Cech arrives and Fenerbahce are keen to take the Colombian to Istanbul.
The champions, too, would have to enter the market to purchase a replacement and have expressed interest in Stoke’s Asmir Begovic and Rob Green at QPR.
Cech lost his starting place at Chelsea at the beginning of last season after Courtois’ three-year spell on loan at Atlético Madrid was curtailed.
Cech still went on to make 16 appearances, including in the Capital One Cup final and on the last afternoon of the season when the title was celebrated, but the club consider the Belgian first-choice for the foreseeable future.
“Petr and Thibaut are up there with the best goalkeepers in the world,” Terry said. “Big Petr’s career has been at the very top.
“To take Pete out of the team, you have to be a great talent. Thibaut has done that. Petr has been very good as well because when you are a professional it is difficult to accept. He has been an unbelievable professional.”
– The Guardian-