It’s now widely expected to be merely a matter of time before Petr Cech is officially unveiled as Arsenal’s first signing of the summer transfer window. The 33-year-old will reportedly arrive for a fee of around £11 million, having been permission by Chelsea to move to one of the Premier League champions' chief rivals as a reward for his 11-years of service at Stamford Bridge.
Despite losing his place in the starting lineup to Thibaut Courtois last season, Cech has all the credentials to offer Arsenal the kind of assured, experienced presence they have lacked in goal for so long. Since Jens Lehmann’s exit in 2008, and arguably before, Arsenal have been searching for someone to make the position their own and provide the security to allow the team to once again challenge for the Premier League title.
The Czech international showed, even in his limited appearances last season, that he remains one of the world’s finest goalkeepers. And crucially, with more than 300 Premier League appearances under his belt, the adaptation time next season should be minimal.
There seems little doubt that he will be an upgrade on the goalkeepers already at the Emirates Stadium and that he will go straight into the team, potentially making his debut in the Community Shield against former club Chelsea on August 2.
Thus Cech’s arrival will raise major doubts over the future of Wojciech Szczesny and David Ospina. Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger insisted toward the end of last season that he was more than happy with the pair, along with third-choice Emiliano Martínez. Yet all three had their moments of difficulty last season.
Since handing him his Premier League debut as a 20-year-old five years ago, Wenger has held high hopes that Szczesny would become a world-class goalkeeper. Yet, while there have been times when that looked as it was taking shape, poor decision making and question marks over his off-pitch attitude have stalled his progression. The final straw for Wenger last season appeared to be when he was caught smoking in the showers after a defeat at Southampton for which the Poland international had been partly culpable.
Ospina, a Colombia international who arrived a year ago, was a more stable presence between the posts after taking over the number one spot. Yet, being ultra-critical, he lacked the command of his penalty area that can be so important in the Premier League, while there were a couple of errors toward the end of the campaign.
It is extremely difficult to see both staying at the Emirates next season, both because they will want to play and because Arsenal won’t want to have three goalkeepers on their books on first-team wages. As things stand, it appears that it will be Ospina’s time at Arsenal that will be coming to an end. According to the London Evening Standard, Arsenal have already been approached by Turkish club Fenerbahce over a potential £3.9 million transfer. And the 26-year-old confirmed that he was aware of the interest, although he would be putting it to the back of his mind until after the Copa America.
“They are dealing with my agent,” he said. “But at the moment, the only thoughts I have are for Colombia -- I will not betray my team. I’m not in a position to think about a transfer. If I do that I would betray my team-mates. I have total concentration on the national team.”