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Petr Čech and the potential end of a Chelsea era

[dropcap]W[/dropcap]ith Chelsea wrapping up the Premier League title a number of weeks ago, the final day of the English season had an exhibition feel to it across a number of top-flight grounds.

The Blues players celebrated the confirmation of their champions status following a 3-1 victory over Sunderland, with a specific focus on the outgoing Didier Drogba.

The veteran Ivorian striker will leave Stamford Bridge this summer as a club legend, but may not be the only long-serving West London hero exiting.

Although captain John Terry will remain with José Mourinho’s men, Petr Čech’s future seems more unclear.

The 33-year-old has been on the Premier League club’s books for eleven years, playing a key role in the side’s successes in the modern era.

The Czech Republic international has won four English top flight titles, the Champions League, Europa League and seven domestic cups since joining Chelsea in 2004.

However, this season the long-serving custodian has seen his role as first choice slip away, with Mourinho breeding Belgian star Thibaut Courtois between the sticks at Stamford Bridge.

This natural progression seemed logical, given that the former Atlético Madrid loanee has time on his side and will more than likely take his place in the Blues team for the next decade.

Courtois has had big gloves to fill, as Čech has been one of English and European football’s best goalkeepers for a prolonged period of time.

Petr ČechThe Czech Republic international’s consistency has been a standout feature, with the Chelsea rearguard being able to trust and depend on the club’s last line of defence.

Courtois has impressed in his inaugural campaign in English football, fitting in at Stamford Bridge with little fuss.

He has been an unsung hero in the Blues’ double success this season, making important saves in big games and is already amongst the finest in the national game.

As such, the likelihood of Čech winning back the number one role at the English champions is slight, which leads to key questions ahead of next season.

The eastern European stopper has proven in the seven Premier League games he has played this term that he still has all the attributes to feature at the top level.

For a player of his level of distinction and ability, playing second fiddle will have been a tough ask this season and something that is unlikely to reoccur next term.

Čech has struck up a strong bond with Chelsea, which will make it tough for him to request a move elsewhere ahead of 2015-16.

The Blues will be reluctant to sell their club hero to a fellow Premier League side, despite the fact that the Czech Republic international would be an ideal addition at Arsenal or Manchester United should David De Gea’s contract solution not be solved soon.

A move abroad seems more likely and is necessary; having someone of Čech’s standing not playing regular football is a travesty.

Mourinho has challenged his current Chelsea contingent to try and match the achievements of his previous title-winning team, which possessed strong characters.

Courtois has the natural ability to be a successful successor to Čech, but must continue to be at his best if he is to be held in the same regard as the man he is replacing.

After such a silverware-laden tenure at Chelsea, leaving the club will be a difficult decision for Čech but is one that must be taken to prolong his career.

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