[dropcap]C[/dropcap]helsea’s summer transfer business has been limited to a change of reserve goalkeepers so far this off-season, with Petr Čech being replaced at Stamford Bridge by Asmir Begović.
The Czech Republic international has been allowed to move to cross-town rivals Arsenal, ending a longstanding and silverware-filled affiliation with the West London club.
For someone of Čech’s stature, ability and high regard at Chelsea to request a move shows just how unenviable the task of usurping Thibaut Courtois as the club’s number one is.
The Belgium international returned to the Blues last summer after three years starring at Atlético Madrid and was deemed good enough to take club legend Čech’s place in José Mourinho’s side.
Surely, with Courtois’ role in Chelsea wining a domestic double being lauded extensively, any goalkeepers moving to the Premier League champions this summer must realise that it is purely as a back-up option?
New man Begović has penned a deal to move to the London club and clearly has one of two trains of thought.
The first is that the Bosnian has extreme confidence in his own abilities and believes that he can do what Čech couldn’t – and impress enough to claim the starting berth.
Begović has displayed form at Stoke over recent campaigns to have him rightly acknowledged as one of the Premier League’s most consistent and able custodians.
However, the chances of Mourinho dropping a goalkeeper that is now arguably the best young stopper in world football seems far-fetched.
The second train of thought is that the 28-year-old has internally accepted the fact that he will play second fiddle to the giant Belgian and is content with this.
In this scenario, the former Portsmouth keeper has accepted the fact that he will most likely be restricted to making appearances in cup competitions and on the odd chance that Courtois is unavailable or injured.
There is certainly an element of prestige in playing for the English champions, while it is odds-on that Begović’s pay packet in West London is more healthy than it was at the Britannia Stadium.
That said, shouldn’t someone of Begović’s considerable talents be playing as a number one at a major club?
Ask the likes of Loïc Rémy, Filipe Luís, Mohamed Salah and other fringe figures in the current Blues squad whether they would prefer to spend time on the sidelines at Chelsea or still be at their former clubs and the answers would be very interesting.
For a top-level, international goalkeeper to remain sharp and at the top of his game, regular first-team football at the highest level is a pre-requisite – something that Begović is unlikely to receive at Chelsea.
He has been handed the number one jersey, while Courtois keeps his number 13 but this is merely a facade.
There are plenty of other scenarios that could play themselves out this summer that may well see the likes of Manchester United, Tottenham and other sides looking for a first-choice goalkeeper – with Begović more than good enough to fill the potential void.
For the 28-year-old, the realisation that he is unlikely to play very often will surely set in on the first day of the Premier League season, as he sits on the bench.
The Bosnian stopper has been first choice at Stoke for five consecutive campaigns and as such the transition to becoming a back-up will take some getting used to.
For Chelsea, the acquisition gives them a very impressive back-up goalkeeper but this could well be a position with many different incumbents over the next decade as Courtois continues as the side’s preferred last line of defence.
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