Rumours that Petr Cech could be leaving Chelsea during the 2014 summer transfer window persist, but the veteran stopper and his young challenger Thibaut Courtois can coexist at Stamford Bridge for the foreseeable future.
Manager Jose Mourinho acknowledged that while he likes having two capable goalkeepers in his squad, the Belgian international Courtois is the clear favourite to start for the Blues, as reported by BeIN Sports:
Petr is ready to fight for his position but Thibaut is the best young goalkeeper in the world, no doubts about that.
They will fight and for me it's a good problem to have to make a decision.
We are a club that wants to be strong and wants to have a real possibility of competing for trophies and we want competition for places.
But I know that Mark Schwarzer is a very good keeper, very stable and a good man, completely ready to be our second goalkeeper like he was last season and to give positive performances if we need him to play.
So if he's our second goalkeeper, we will feel very safe with him.
Saying he would "feel safe" with Mark Schwarzer as a backup option indicates he understands one of his two stars may be leaving, and it's clear as day it won't be Courtois.
Cech is still being linked with French clubs Paris Saint-Germain and Monaco, per BeIN Sports, and it wouldn't be outlandish to think the Blues could cash in on their longtime starter while his value is still high.
Likewise, Cech could prefer a transfer as well. There's no doubt the Czech international will fight for his spot as Chelsea's starter. But as of right now, the position is Courtois' to lose.
The 22-year-old is widely hailed as one of the top players in the world, and the Blues simply won't risk doing anything to make him question his future at the club. Cech could help Chelsea win matches for the next two or three years—Courtois could do it for the next decade or more.
But the Belgian has been saying all the right things since returning to London, and it has opened the door for a situation in which both players could be happy. There was the admission he could still learn a lot from Cech, a veteran of many wars, per the Daily Express' David Wright:
Petr has had a really nice 10 years here. He’s one of the best goalkeepers in the world. You can learn a lot from every keeper you train with. Every goalkeeper can have a type of thing they are usually good at so when you see them train you can learn from him and other keepers, too. It helps you during your training.
He followed that up by claiming he was a "nobody" before joining Chelsea, in an interview for the club's official website (h/t to Goal's Luke Sheehan):
Obviously it helped me that I knew some of the players before I arrived. When I signed here I had played for just one year in the Belgian league. I wasn't anybody [before that]. In the last three years, I have been able to improve myself a lot and make my name in the football world.
Now it is up to me to keep working hard here at Chelsea, keep improving myself and helping the team to achieve the things we all want.
A keen observer will notice Courtois never specifically said anything about playing behind Cech, or how he makes it clear he no longer considers himself to be a nobody. That doesn't take anything away from the two comments, however: The youngster comes across as humble and hungry to prove himself.
He's also right: For all of his prowess, there's still much he can learn about playing the game. Cech has seen it all, and he understands what it means to be Chelsea's No. 1. Having Cech around could be incredibly beneficial to Courtois' development in the next few months.
Cech's list of potential suitors might not be as interesting as he would have liked, either. At PSG, he would have to compete with one of the world's most underrated stoppers, Italy's Salvatore Sirigu. Monaco have the cash to pull off any transfer, but they've yet to find a replacement for James Rodriguez.
Other top clubs have already solidified the position during the transfer window. Barcelona would have been an interesting fit, for instance, but they decided to invest in a younger option in Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
Chelsea's 2014-15 schedule will be as heavy as ever, with the Premier League, Champions League, FA Cup and League Cup presenting plenty of opportunities for both stoppers to get their minutes.
Even with a clear starter, there should be enough matches to keep both men happy for the time being. Having both Cech and Courtois in the squad would be a temporary solution. But for the coming season, there's no reason why it couldn't work.
Cech is still likely to leave Stamford Bridge, either in August or the January transfer window. But should the Blues decide it would be more beneficial to keep him around a little longer, the team's stopper situation would arguably be the best of any club in world football.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!