Petr Cech is ready to consider a move to Manchester United as David de Gea’s replacement after Jose Mourinho admitted he is powerless to prevent the Chelsea goalkeeper from signing for a major Premier League rival.
United manager Louis van Gaal revealed last week that moves have already been made at Old Trafford to replace De Gea, who is expected to confirm to the club that he wants to be allowed to return to Spain at the end of this season to play for Real Madrid.
Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris is a long-standing United target, with Van Gaal an admirer of the vastly-experienced France captain.
But Cech, who is 33 on Wednesday, has emerged as a candidate to replace De Gea with Chelsea informing the Czech Republic goalkeeper that they will not stand in his way if he wishes to leave Stamford Bridge this summer after losing his starting position to Thibaut Courtois this season.
Arsenal had been regarded as favourites to sign Cech, but the goalkeeper’s agent, Viktor Kolar, has admitted that a move to United would appeal to the former Rennes number one.
“Arsenal, United or PSG are all top clubs,” Kolar said. “And Petr would like to join one of them, definitely. Petr expects that [Chelsea owner Roman] Abramovich, not Mourinho will decide about his future, based on their mutual agreement from last year."
It is understood that Abramovich has given Cech the opportunity to sign for any interested club as a reward for his eleven years of service to Chelsea, during which time he has won every major club honour, with the exception of the Club World Cup, at least once.
And speaking on Talksport on Tuesday, Chelsea manager Mourinho conceded that he will not be able to deny Cech a move to United or Arsenal if the goalkeeper decides to pursue a move to Old Trafford or the Emirates.
“If it’s in my hands he would never go, would never go to big clubs with fantastic teams,” Mourinho said. “Big candidates to win the Premier League? I would never let him go.
“But it’s not in my hands. My perfect scenario is that he stays with us. I think he belongs to this club, this club belongs to his history and to his life, too.”
Publicly, United remain determined to fight on in their bid to persuade De Gea to stay, having offered the 24-year-old a £200,000-a-week deal to stay.
But privately, there is a growing acceptance that the former Atletico Madrid youngster will be unable to resist the lure of a return to his home city, which remains the base of his popstar girlfriend, Edurne Garcia Almagro.
De Gea was expected to be announced as United’s Player of the Year at the club’s annual awards night at Old Trafford on Tuesday, but within the dressing-room, the Spaniard’s team-mates also sense that he will say his farewells this week before leaving his representative, Jorge Mendes, to negotiate a move to Real.
Colombian forward Radamel Falcao, who is also represented by Mendes, will not be offered a six-month extension to his season-long loan deal from Monaco, with the player set to be returned to the French club by United.