While most expect Thibaut Courtois to beat out Petr Cech for the number one job at Chelsea this season, Graeme Souness believes Jose Mourinho would be making a mistake if he dropped the veteran.
Signed from Genk in 2011, Courtois has spent the past three campaigns on loan at Atletico Madrid, where, at 22, he’s developed into one of the top goalkeepers in Europe, being voted La Liga’s best shot-stopper in consecutive terms.
Proving crucial towards the side’s 2013-14 title-winning season and run to the Champions League final, the Belgian international also earned numerous plaudits for his World Cup performances in Brazil, but Souness still thinks it would be a risk to opt for him over the experienced Cech.
‘Someone’s going to be an unhappy goalkeeper,’ he told Sky Sports News.
‘Cech has been arguably the outstanding goalkeeper in the Premier League for the past six or seven years. Just to drop him, I would say that is a risk.
‘Courtois has been outstanding in Spanish football and we saw him at the World Cup.
‘He looks to be a quality performer but there’s still a question mark because he’s not done it in the Premier League. There’s no reason why he shouldn’t do it in the Premier League, but to just park Petr Cech, I think there’s an element of risk to that.
'I personally wouldn’t have done that. I’m reading the papers and it seems that’s what is going to happen. If it’s not broken, why try and fix it?
‘Cech is a proper goalkeeper and I imagine in the dressing room he is a proper lad as well. So if he’s out of the team, sitting in that dressing room, he’ll have an influence.’
Cech has been Chelsea’s undisputed first-choice since joining from Rennes in 2004 for £7 million, making 479 appearances in his 10 seasons in North London, while winning three Premier League titles, four FA Cups and three League Cups, the 2012 Champions League and the 2013 Europa League.
However, reports have stated earlier this week that Mourinho has decided to make Courtois the main man going forward, with the Czech Republic international told to look for a new club before the end of the transfer window, so as Chelsea can take advantage of his current value on the market.
At 32, and with two seasons still left on his deal, the Blues are said to be looking for a fee of around £10 million, with Real Madrid, Monaco and Paris Saint-Germain all reported to be interested, although the manager has since moved to rubbish claims of a potential departure.
An undoubted club legend and still one of the top keepers in the game, it remains to be seen whether those reports will hold true but, if Cech does indeed depart over the coming weeks, then at least the future of the position is in safe hands, despite Sounesss’s scepticism.
Should Chelsea start Cech or Courtois this season?