Chelsea have signed the goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer on a free transfer to provide competition and cover for the first choice, Petr Cech.

The 40-year-old Australia international was released by Fulham at the end of last season, after the arrival of the Holland goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg from Roma, and he has agreed a one-year contract with the Premier League's other west London club.

Chelsea, who have released Ross Turnbull, had attempted to take John Ruddy from Norwich City only to be deterred by his price tag. They had offers of £5m and £6m rejected. Norwich wanted closer to £10m.

Schwarzer offers safe hands and vast experience. He arrived in England in 1996, when he joined Bradford from Kaiserslautern, and he went on to spend 11 years at Middlesbrough before joining Fulham as a free agent in 2008.

He is determined to finish next season at the World Cup finals in Brazil with Australia. "We've just qualified for Brazil and I want to continue to play at the highest level for as long as possible," Schwarzer told Chelsea's website. "Obviously Petr is a fantastic goalkeeper and the No1 goalkeeper at Chelsea but I am here to help push him along, he will hopefully push me along and help the younger keepers at the club as well. I'm very excited about the challenges ahead."

Schwarzer said of joining Chelsea: "It's a phenomenal club. It's one of the biggest and best clubs in the world, and it's an honour to sign for Chelsea. I didn't take much convincing to come here.

"There were other [offers] but once I knew Chelsea was interested it was very much the case that I wanted to try and make it happen."

The Chelsea manager, José Mourinho, is expected to offer Henrique Hilário, last season's third-choice goalkeeper, a new one-year contract. Hilário's old deal has expired but the club remain in negotiations over fresh terms.

Schwarzer's former club Fulham have agreed a new one-year deal with Giorgos Karagounis. The 36-year-old featured 28 times for the club last season after his free transfer from Panathinaikos. The midfielder was initially released by the Cottagers when the retained lists came out on 7 June.