Arsenal have agreed an £11 million deal to sign the experienced Chelsea goalkeeper – a move the Blues boss was desperate to avoid
Arsene Wenger has never beaten Jose Mourinho on the pitch in 13 attempts over an 11-year spell, but finally the Arsenal boss can boast that he has got one over his old rival with the signing of Petr Cech.
The goalkeeper completed a medical with Arsenal on Friday and his transfer from Chelsea on a £100,000-a-week, three-year contract is expected to be confirmed as early as Monday.
For the Gunners, this could be the turning point when it comes to competing with the very best in the Premier League and Champions League.
Wenger has given as good as he gets in the verbal slanging matches with Mourinho over the years, but he has failed to shake off the damage of Mourinho’s most brutal jibes. The Frenchman was labelled a “specialist in failure” by his managerial rival for failing to win a league title since 2004.
Now, though, Arsenal look ready to mount a genuine title challenge and while Cech is not the final piece in the jigsaw, his arrival in an £11 million deal could make a significant contribution between now and the end of the season next May.
Mourinho was loathe to sell Cech to a domestic rival and his public stance that he would rather sell the 33-year-old abroad was reflected in Chelsea’s initial response when the Gunners made a move for the Czech Republic international.
But the decision was taken out of Mourinho’s hands as Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich granted Cech his wish to choose his next club – which happened to be in London – thanks to his 11 years of service at Stamford Bridge.
For so long, Arsenal have been a team that have lost top players to rival clubs in England. Manchester City looted a host of stars from north London, including Samir Nasri for £25m in 2011, while Robin van Persie moved to Manchester United a year later in a £24m deal.
Much to Mourinho’s chagrin, Wenger is now the beneficiary of a rare deal between two rival clubs at the top end of the Premier League table.
Wenger has not been able to select a proven, quality goalkeeper since Jens Lehmann in the ‘Invincibles’ season in 2003-04.
Mourinho has claimed that Cech is “one of the three best goalkeepers in the world” and still handed him 16 appearances in all competitions last season.
Cech may have lost his place as Chelsea’s No.1 to Thibaut Courtois, but he is still an enormous upgrade on David Ospina and Wojciech Szczesny.
Just as Alexis Sanchez’s arrival from Barcelona last summer added some much-needed star quality in the final third, in Cech the Gunners have gained a player that Chelsea captain John Terry believes will be worth 12 to 15 points a season to Wenger’s men.
Arsenal finished 12 points behind the Blues last term and are looking to close the gap after an impressive end to the season which saw them finish third in the table and retain the FA Cup.
Not only is Cech reliable when it comes to shot-stopping and commanding his area, but most importantly he is a winner.
The keeper will command the confidence of the Arsenal defence and ensure they are tighter as a unit. He has the experience of the big occasion having won four Premier League titles, four FA Cups, the Europa League and the Champions League during his time in west London.
It is the perfect signing to address a problem area for Arsenal. If Wenger can also add a striker and defensive midfielder to his squad before the close of the summer window, the Gunners could start the season as Chelsea’s most dangerous challengers.
Off the pitch, Wenger has won an important battle with his old foe in the signing of Cech and he may even secure that elusive victory against Mourinho on it, too.