Chelsea Mustn't Choose Cech Over Courtois Just 'Cos Of Sentimental Reasons
Much has been made of Chelsea’s extensive use of the loan system this season but in reality it is just good business by the Blues. It allows them to give their younger players a lot of competitive game time that they wouldn’t have otherwise got. Of course it has drawn criticism, with Chelsea being likened to a hoover in the way they are monopolising young talent, but it does appear to be a system that is working and maybe other clubs will bite the bullet and adopt a similar style.
One player for whom it definitely has worked is young Belgian keeper Thibaut Courtois. By now everyone will know how good a goalkeeper he is with his Atletico side advancing in the Champions League but the question on everyone’s lips is whether Courtois should replace Chelsea stalwart Petr Cech at the end of the season.
Cech has been an absolute mountain for Chelsea since arriving from Rennes in 2004, he has built up a reputation as one of the best keepers in football. He was integral as Chelsea won the Premier League twice in a row under Jose Mourinho during the Portuguese’s first spell in charge and he was also key when the Blues won their inaugural Champions League. He made a key penalty save against former team-mate Arjen Robben in the final and was at his brilliant best on the way to winning the trophy.
That being said it could be that his time at Stamford Bridge is up, at least as first choice anyway. In Courtois, Chelsea could well have a future Ballon d’Or winner, something no keeper has achieved, and they can’t afford to lose him because of sentiment towards a club legend. In fairness to Cech he hasn’t really made too many mistakes this season and he’s been largely impressive.
The problem is that Courtois is an extremely ambitious man, back in October he stated that he believed he was amongst the world’s top five goalkeepers and in January he said that he wouldn’t return to Chelsea as second fiddle. This has led to some suggestions that Courtois could spend a season on loan in the Premier League but his contract is up in 2016 and if he impresses again it will be hard for Chelsea to justify not selling Courtois. The Belgian will be constantly linked with moves away from the London club until he is established as the club’s number one.
Jose Mourinho has shown during his time at Real Madrid that he isn’t afraid to drop a big name goalkeeper. Iker Casillas was left on the bench for much of last season and even Cech was allowed to displace fan favourite Carlo Cudicini when Mourinho first joined Chelsea. Cech maintains a strong relationship with his manager and he is an influential dressing room presence but unlike Courtois he would probably relish the competition. He has never really had that whilst he’s been with the club and perhaps it could be exactly what he needs.
This is the problem with Chelsea’s new operation, if players are continually farmed out to different places it will unsettle them. Players want assurances about their future and they want to feel stability in their careers. This is why Courtois has done so well at Atletico because he has stayed put for what will be a third season now. If Chelsea send him somewhere different next season he may start agitating for a permanent move away, his talent is such that Chelsea simply cannot allow that to happen. Even if they deny Courtois a move in 2015 there will be no guarantees that he will sign a new deal and they could lose one of the best players of his generation for nothing.
It sounds like an extreme situation but it could well happen and by that stage Cech will be 34, still young in goalkeeping terms but definitely on the wane. Courtois may mistakes next season, it would be his first season in the Premier League but up until this point he has done everything possible to suggest he can become a legend. Cech was 22 when he started at Chelsea, the same age that Courtois will be next season. It’s time for a new era between the sticks at Stamford Bridge.
Follow Pete on Twitter, @psharland55