Jose Mourinho has a tough decision to make in assigning a No. 1 at Chelsea this summer, but the proposed sale of goalkeeper Petr Cech would leave Thibaut Courtois free to claim the club's starting berth.
The loan of Oriol Romeu to Stuttgart means that Chelsea now meet the Premier League foreign player maximum quota of 17 players from abroad over the age of 21.
However, should the club wish to acquire any more foreign assets, they'll be operating on a strict one-in, one-out policy in order to meet regulations.
Who should start under Mourinho?
On paper, the formula seems relatively simple. In Courtois and Cech, the club have two elite-standard keepers, with Mark Schwarzer providing backup, but only one of that former pair might be required.
Courtois, 22, is by a decade the younger of the two and a 2013-14 La Liga winner while on loan at Atletico Madrid. The debate is certainly strong in regard to why Mourinho would entrust the starlet with the keys to his kingdom.
However, impressive though his three seasons at the Vicente Calderon might have been, there is no guarantee the 22-year-old's form translates so smoothly to the English top flight.
After all, it was another ex-Atletico prodigy, David de Gea, who struggled so much upon first moving to Manchester United, and Sir Alex Ferguson assuredly might have wished for an alternative of Cech's quality at that time.
Courtois has only had two days of training, he is not ready. He needs to play, we don’t have lots of time until the beginning of the season – there’s two more weeks so we need to give him more playing time.
Petr (Cech) is the same so the decision was 45-45 here and the next match in Turkey will be exactly the same thing. He (Courtois) had a fabulous save from the (Franco) Di Santo header, after that in the other two goals he has no chance and he was quiet - but the save was fantastic.
For 10 years now, Cech has stood guard at Chelsea's gates, and OptaJoe shows what a reliable servant the 32-year-old has been in that time:
158 – Petr Cech has recorded 158 clean sheets overall in PL history; the only GK to keep more is David James. Wall.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) August 8, 2014
Of course, the prevalent hype around Courtois is strong; the swish, latest-edition model, if you will. However, trading in Cech's guaranteed results at this juncture would be folly, even if it freed up space for another star arrival.
Should Chelsea sell Cech to sign more foreign players?
At the very least, one would think Cech's presence should be kept around in a rotation capacity with his recently arrived teammate, a valuable mentor figure to have alongside him.
Courtois will be playing with a new defence and new tactics ahead of him at Stamford Bridge, the only likeness being that Filipe Luis will be familiar with the starlet's habits.
He's older, maybe, but Cech is not the over-the-hedge geriatric that the age gap between these two might have one believe. Moreover, he remains one of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League and indeed the whole of Europe.
Boasting two such high-class goalkeepers among one's ranks is a growing trend it seems, with Real Madrid last season jostling between Diego Lopez and Iker Casillas, while Manchester City have now signed Malaga's Willy Caballero as competition for Joe Hart.
Chelsea, at least for now, should follow a similar suit and not put all their eggs in Courtois' basket, the goalkeeper being of a rare value that's more difficult to find than in other areas of the squad.
Mourinho would be wise to ensure his long-time servant stays on in West London, and if/when Courtois is more assured as the Premier League powerhouse he's for some years seemed destined to be, Cech's departure may be justified.