Petr Cech remains in the dark over his immediate future at Chelsea as he confronts life as a second-choice at the London club, with Thibaut Courtois the manager’s preferred goalkeeper for the start of the Premier League season.
The veteran, who has claimed three Premier League titles and a Champions League over a glittering decade at Stamford Bridge, has yet to speak directly to José Mourinho over his sudden omission from the team following the decision to retain Courtois at the club after three years on loan at Atlético Madrid. Courtois made his competitive debut in Monday’s 3-1 victory at Burnley and, while he admitted his own future would have been cast into doubt had he not started at Turf Moor, he urged the elder man to remain at the club.
Cech’s form has hardly wavered over recent years and he was one of the team’s most consistent performers last term. Yet he has been left surprised and confused by Mourinho’s decision to favour the Belgian and disappointed that the manager has not explained his reasoning face to face. The 32-year-old, who has two years to run on his current contract and is one of the most senior players at the club, will not make a hasty decision on his future on the back of one game of the league season but he has little desire to spend the campaign as an understudy and is conscious that the transfer deadline is looming large.
Mourinho suggested in the wake of the win at Burnley that Courtois’s promotion was not irrevocable and would be reviewed on a game-by-game basis, though Monaco may now test Chelsea’s resolve to retain the Czech international. The club’s stance is complicated by the reality that they have one too many foreign players in their 25-man first-team squad over the age of 21 to conform to Premier League and Champions League rules, so one is expected to leave before the end of the month.
Courtois’s contract, like that of Cech, expires in 2016 but the club have opened negotiations over extending his stay in London – as they have with his compatriot, Eden Hazard, who has also been offered a new five-year deal – and Chelsea hope to secure him to new terms within the next month. The youngster made an encouraging start against Burnley and concedes he must now repay Mourinho’s faith on a daily basis having dislodged Cech from the first XI.
“The manager said [he was starting]an hour before the game,” he said. “It was nice. I came here obviously to play. I know that Petr is a great goalkeeper so there is a lot of competition but, when you come back from a successful loan, you hope to play. Otherwise it would maybe have been better for me to go to another team.
“It is nice that he put faith in me and it is now for me to prove his faith is right. I need to work hard in every training session and game to gain the confidence of my team-mates and the manager.”Courtois revealed Cech has been a helpful ally since he returned from Atletico as a Spanish champion, despite the obvious rivalry between the pair, and believes it will benefit Chelsea for the veteran to stay and fight to reclaim his place. “Of course I want Petr to stay,” added the Belgian. “In training I can still learn from him because he has a lot of experience. He can give me good tips about the Premier League, things I might not know in the start. He is nice to me. We are training very well and he is still proving he is a great goalkeeper. For the team is better to have two good goalkeepers. I don’t have a problem if he stays. Hopefully I can play well and stay in the team.”
Courtois concedes that competition from Cech is not the only incentive to improve at Chelsea, with the club aiming for the Premier League title this season. He said: “Always when you are here you have pressure to perform because you are playing in a top team. There is always a pressure to win every game and to be important and I am trying to do that in every game I play.”
Chelsea had three debutants against Burnley - the goalkeeper, goalscorer Diego Costa and man of the match Cesc Fabregas - and Courtois believes the club’s swift transfer business this summer is an advantage over rivals who are still pursing targets in the final fortnight of the window. “It is good when you have your team done before the league starts,” he said. “It is important that everyone knows how everybody plays and you are already good. If you need to make a transfer at this moment now then you have problems obviously.”