Coming into this season, Jose Mourinho had a difficult choice to make at 'keeper—would he stick with 32-year-old veteran, Petr Cech, who has been so reliable in the past, or would he go for the younger player, 22-year-old Thibaut Courtois, who could very well be the best player at his position for the next decade?
Mourinho chose the future, according to Chelsea's official Twitter account:
Chelsea team v Burnley: Courtois; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry (c), Azpilicueta; Fabregas, Matic; Schurrle, Oscar, Hazard; Diego Costa. #CFC— Chelsea FC (@chelseafc) August 18, 2014
Cech is certainly still an excellent 'keeper. and it's hard to imagine him wanting to spend a season deputizing for Courtois, so the rumors are going to start flowing about his future.
Wayne Veysey of Goal.com certainly thinks Cech's days at Stamford Bridge could be numbered:
Courtois starts for Chelsea tonight, as expected. Huge call by Mourinho. Spells beginning of the end of Cech's #CFC career.— Wayne Veysey (@wayneveysey) August 18, 2014
Oliver Kay of The Times feels the same:
Looking forward to seeing Courtois in Premier League, but Cech is far too good a keeper to be No2 anywhere. Would be a great buy for someone— Oliver Kay (@OliverKayTimes) August 18, 2014
The decision couldn't have been an easy one to make. Cech was solid for Chelsea a season ago, starting 34 Premier League games while notching 16 clean sheets and earned a 6.82 average match rating from WhoScored.com.
But Courtois was arguably even better. He started 37 La Liga games for Atletico Madrid, keeping a remarkable 19 clean sheets and earning a 6.7 average match rating from WhoScored.com.
Squawka Football went even deeper comparing the two, and again Courtois came up looking the better overall performer:
And Courtois also had one stat in his favor that perhaps was all Mourinho needed to see when making his decision, per WhoScored.com:
Add it all up, and Mourinho's decision seems a wise one, even if some thought he would remain loyal to Cech. Count Sam Tighe of Bleacher Report among them:
Thibaut Courtois is the best GK in the Premier League, deserves to start. Thought Mou would go w/ Petr Cech, though. #CFC— Sam Tighe (@stighefootball) August 18, 2014
Clearly, Courtois' excellent play and his incredibly bright future made it too hard for Mourinho to keep him on the bench. Sending him on loan once again this year could have damaged the relationship between the club and Courtois, so Mourinho made the right decision both in the present and in the future.
What becomes of Cech now, however, remains to be seen. But given his talent and his desire to play first-team football, it wouldn't be surprising at all if he was sold before the transfer deadline this summer.