Tuesday 24 October 2017

Petr Cech's £10m move to Arsenal from Chelsea edges closer to completion

Petr Cech
Petr Cech

Matt Law

Arsenal are growing increasingly confident that a deal to make goalkeeper Petr Cech their first summer signing is close to completion.

Despite the misgivings of manager Jose Mourinho, Cech has the green light from Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich and the club’s board to move to an English club and talks over a proposed £10 million switch to rivals Arsenal are progressing well.

There had been fears within the Emirates that the club’s attempts to sign Cech could become a saga that dragged into the final weeks of the transfer window, but they are now hopeful that will not be the case.

An agreement over personal terms with Cech should be a formality, with the 33-year-old keen to stay in London and continue playing in the Champions League.

Until a contract is signed, there remains the threat of a complication arising that could alert Paris St-Germain but Arsenal staff and players are preparing to welcome Cech to the club in the near future.

Wojciech Szczesny is aware of Arsenal’s attempt to sign Cech but the Pole remains determined to stay and fight for his place.

That means David Ospina is the most likely of Arsenal’s goalkeepers to leave and Turkish club Fenerbahce are showing a strong interest in the Colombia international.

Despite taking over from Szczesny last season, Ospina has not looked totally convincing in English football.

Arsenal signed the 26-year-old for £3 million from Nice 12 months ago and it is understood that Fenerbahce are prepared to pay £4 million to land him this summer.

Szczesny counts as a home-grown player for Arsenal, which is helpful to manager Arsène Wenger, and still believes he can battle it out with Cech for the No 1 spot.

Wenger was upset that Szczesny was caught smoking in the dressing room in January and the player was pictured with a cigarette again in Poland earlier this month.

But Szczesny, 25, has insisted on several occasions that he has a good relationship with Wenger and wants to play for the Frenchman. He is also aware that his own game could benefit from working closely with Cech.

Ospina is on international duty with Colombia at the Copa America and kept a valuable clean sheet in the 1-0 victory over Brazil in Group C.

A further indicator that Arsenal are preparing for the arrival of Cech is that goalkeeping coach Tony Roberts is leaving to join Swansea City.

Roberts is very close to former Arsenal goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski, who moved to Swansea last summer. His departure will leave room in the Arsenal backroom staff for Cech to potentially bring Christophe Lollichon with him from Chelsea.

Cech and Lollichon have been practically inseparable for the goalkeeper’s entire career, having worked together at Rennes and then Chelsea, and would ideally like to remain together.

Roberts worked under Arsenal’s senior goalkeeping coach Gerry Peyton, but Lollichon would have to go in as Cech’s No 1 man.

Chelsea want to replace Cech with Asmir Begovic and are likely to lodge a bid with Stoke City once the deal with Arsenal has been signed off. Queens Park Rangers goalkeeper Rob Green is another option.

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