Arsenal confirmed goalkeeper Petr Cech had become the club’s new No.1, announcing the shirt number change on Twitter to a mixed reaction from supporters.
The 36-year-old has been criticised for making a lot of costly errors since his move from Chelsea, but it doesn’t appear Arsenal have any plans to cut him loose in 2018/19.
Cech has 12 months left on his deal and fans will be disappointed to see he’ll be a regular between the sticks until it expires.
The Czech international joined Arsenal from Chelsea in 2015 and has gone on to make 117 appearances in all competitions, conceding 132 goals. Cech has looked fallible ever since he made the switch, and it’s clear Arsenal don’t have the same player that was considered one of the Premier League greatest-ever goalkeepers.
For years, Arsenal were being told to sign a stellar goalkeeper that could help them in their quest for the Premier League title, but Cech has fallen considerable short of expectations. The veteran’s debut season at the Emirates didn’t go too badly, conceding less than a goal-per-game in the Premier League and keeping 16 clean sheets. Things soon spiralled, however.
Cech shipped 37 goals in 35 games (1.06 goals conceded-per-game), only the second time in his Premier League career that he had shipped more goals than games played. He managed a paltry 12 clean sheets too, but things would escalate even more in 2017/18.
The former Chelsea man shipped 48 goals in 34 league games, keeping only 11 clean sheets, and was expected to be replaced by Bernd Leno this summer. That doesn’t appear to be happening now. His number one shirt highlights his importance to the squad for Unai Emery’s first season, but the decision to trust him for another campaign might prove a misstep.
Leno is the only goalkeeper to be linked with Arsenal in recent weeks, which is quite a surprise given the Gunners could be losing the first and second-choice between the sticks next year. Cech and David Ospina are both out of contract in 2019 and may not be offered extensions, meaning Arsenal need to line up replacements, but that doesn’t appear to be a priority currently.
It makes the decision to sell Wojciech Szczesny to Juventus even more foolish, as Arsenal had one of the best stoppers in Serie A available to them. He’d almost certainly be an improvement on Cech, but his soured relationship with former manager Arsene Wenger could have been behind his surprise sale last summer. The Polish international will now replace Gianluigi Buffon as Juventus’ first-choice next season.
Arsenal have the right people in place to identify a Cech replacement. Sven Mislintat is Head of Recruitment and has an extensive knowledge of Germany, Raul Sanllehi is Head of Football Relations and a former Sporting Director of Barcelona, while Huss Fahmy is the man who will negotiate contracts.
In addition to Leno, Mislintat reportedly is looking at Wolfsburg ‘keeper Koen Casteels, but with Cech set to stay for the rest of his contract, a new goalkeeper may not be on his way this summer unless Ospina departs.