One of Chelsea’s finest players has swapped west London for north, Blue for Red and celebrating the Premiership title for equally exuberant displays of joy for winning the FA Cup.
In short, Petr Cech is leaving Chelsea to join Arsenal, and it is the latest in a pattern of first team players that are held in the highest esteem joining what appears to be a direct rival to the detriment of the club.
Juan Mata left for Manchester United in 2013 for almost £40 million, Frank Lampard was allowed to leave under the assumption he was taking up semi-retirement in America only to join Manchester City for a season, and now Cech, Chelsea’s finest ever goalkeeper, and the keeper of numerous records, is leaving the club with one season still left on his contract for approximately £11 million.
The general opinion has thus far been one of puzzlement, especially from Chelsea fans, as to why Jose Mourinho is allowing such a quality player to once again exit Stamford Bridge to ply his trade at a direct rival for the title. The truth is that he is applying the same policy that allowed the other two to be bought to the general betterment of the club they were leaving.
Mata’s exit gave the club the funds to buy Nemanja Matic, who performed with distinction for the majority of last season and has made himself critical in the defensive midfield position. It also gave the side balance as it allowed Oscar and Eden Hazard to define their roles in the side, the latter with great results.
Frank Lampard, Chelsea’s record goalscorer, also left and allowed Chelsea to improve. Despite scoring the late equaliser at the Ethihad Stadium in September and denying Chelsea a win over Manchester City, Chelsea’s form in that part of the season, based largely on the midfield axis of Matic, Fabregas (who replaced Lampard in the centre) and Hazard is what ultimately won them the league title.
Manchester City laboured for much of the season and Manchester United were left with an embarrassing imbalanced having packed their side with attacking midfielders. Neither benefitted greatly from the services of two former Chelsea players, and the end result of Arsenal buying Petr Cech may well be similar.
At the age of 33, Petr Cech is getting closer to the end of his career. It is true that goalkeepers can play for longer at the highest level of European football- look at Gianluigi Buffon who at the age 37 led Juventus to the Champions League final, but what is certain is that he will not improve.
The decision to let him leave would be stupid were Thibaus Courtois, arguably the best goalkeeper in the world and ten years Cech’s junior, not in the Chelsea first team at present. It would also be the wrong decision were Chelsea letting him go for nothing at the end of next season. As it is, the club will get almost £11 million, and that money could go towards the potential signing of Antoinne Griezmann from Atletico Madrid, who Chelsea are hoping to sign ahead of PSG, and who could give the team the added attacking dimension that it lacked in the Champions League last season. Moreover, it would be a bad decision were Chelsea not letting him go to a club that finished last season 12 points behind them, or one that was readily able to strengthen in other areas that might make them more of a threat to Jose Mourinho’s side next season.
Chelsea’s dominance off the pitch and on it has been borne out of its skill in the transfer market after 2012. Cech’s departure, having been done for the right money, and should, if said money be used wisely, be another example of that.