To any top club in Europe with thoughts about making a change between the posts, there is one obvious place to look heading into the January transfer window. For the past decade Petr Cech has been among the best goalkeepers in the world, helping Chelsea to land numerous titles both in England and in Europe. His club now have on their hands a younger and, in the mind of Jose Mourinho, better goalkeeper. Yet being behind a goalkeeper of the rare quality of Thibaut Courtois is far from an indictment of Cech’s own ability. And, at the age of 32, he could well have several years left at a high level.
Cech has started just one Premier League match this season, and it is not hard to imagine that he will be giving serious consideration to his future. Speaking this week, the Czech Republic international’s agent revealed that a move in next month’s transfer window is not on the cards, although he offered up hope for the future to two clubs believed to have been monitoring his situation closely.
“It’s unlikely Petr will leave Chelsea in the January transfer window,” Viktor Kolar said. “The club and coach want to keep him to help win the title. I think Arsenal should have made an offer to him. I think Petr would be considering it. Liverpool need to strengthen their position in goal and they know Petr will be available in the summer.”
Kolar may be right that Arsenal should have bid for Cech, but it is no surprise that they didn’t. Certainly Arsene Wenger’s men have had their problems in goal in recent times. It is not that long ago that Wojciech Szczesny was dropped as he struggled to fulfill his early potential. The Poland international’s decision-making remains questionable on occasion, while it has yet to be seen whether the man brought in to challenge him in the summer, David Ospina, can handle the more physical aspects of the Premier League. Still, it would be a major surprise were Wenger to earmark the goalkeeping position as one in immediate need of improvement.
There is currently one club above all others where Cech would seem an obvious fit. Liverpool have continued to be riddled with defensive issues this season, and the problems start in goal. Simon Mignolet is a fine shot stopper, but gives the impression of inspiring no confidence in whatever personnel lines up in front of him in defense. His failure to project a sense of authority over his penalty area has now cost him his starting berth, with Brad Jones being promoted into the firing line. Yet the performances of the Australian have shown why manager Brendan Rodgers waited so long to make the switch. Neither goalkeeper looks a viable option, and Rodgers will surely be looking to find a solution in the transfer market as soon as possible.
Heading toward the halfway point of the season in 10th place in the Premier League, Liverpool’s prospects for a return to the Champions League may depend on their ability to get in a reliable goalkeeper in January. It remains hard to fathom why the Merseysiders have not pushed to bring in free agent Victor Valdes, whose ability with his feet would be a perfect fit for a Rodgers side. Instead, Liverpool have been strongly linked in recent days with Genoa’s Mattia Perin. Yet, while the 22-year-old has ample potential, most goalkeepers from abroad, with Courtois a notable exception, take at least some time to adapt to the English game. Cech has Premier League experience and authority in abundance. And Liverpool should surely be doing everything they can to persuade Chelsea to part with him, in some capacity, in January.