Cech is too young and too good to sit around – he needs to leave Chelsea

Chelsea fans might not like this, but Petr Cech really would be better off cutting his losses and leaving the club sooner rather than later.

There was a time when an early round of the League Cup was a cue for a rest from the autumnal rigours of Premier League, Champions League and international fixtures for the legendary keeper.

Now, it is a crumb thrown down from the high table by a ruthless manager. And a midweek run-out against Bolton was not the anti-climax the Champions League winner should tolerate.

His only other appearance this season was for the Czech Republic in their 2-1 Euro 2016 qualifying win against Holland.

In much the same way that Jose Mourinho has repeatedly decried the Europa League as beneath his club, so a diet of domestic cup matches is beneath one of Chelsea’s true greats – surely the best £7m they have ever spent.

Courtois is looking to establish himself at Stamford Bridge
The excellent Courtois has started Chelsea’s league games so far this season

And Cech undoubtedly deserves to be regarded as a genuine Chelsea great; 480 appearances, three Premier League titles, four FA Cups, three League Cups, the Champions League and Europa League, 220 clean sheets and, in March 2005, a record 1,025 minutes without conceding a league goal.

Mourinho cannot be blamed for identifying the brilliant Thibaut Courtois as the future for his team, but for Cech, the prospect of picking up where Mark Schwarzer left off last season does not make any sense.

Last season, Schwarzer willingly accepted the bit-part role and played 12 matches for the Blues. He was lucky enough to feature in the Champions League semi-finals and the final league games of the season because of an injury to Cech, without which the Australian’s involvement would have been halved.

Soon to turn 42, Schwarzer’s position last season was easier to accept. He looked on it as a bonus at the end of a distinguished career.

But Cech is still only 32. That’s eight years younger than the great Dino Zoff was when the Italian keeper led his country to World Cup glory in 1982.

There were murmurings last season that some of Cech’s reflexes were on the wane, but he responded with another superb run of form.

It seemed crazy that anyone should be writing him off, though that may partly have been down to the recognition that a fine young upstart was waiting in the wings at Atletico Madrid, where Courtois was hugely impressive while on loan.

Jose Mourinho, Chelsea manager
Courtois’ emergence left Mourinho with a tough choice to make

Courtois has justified his inclusion, but there is no real sense that Cech has done anything wrong or that he would have been inferior to the 22-year-old.

And Blues fans love him, just as they love Frank Lampard, who proved that even outfield players are not washed up at 36, let alone 32, if they look after themselves as well as the all-time Chelsea record goalscorer.

Cech’s contribution to the golden era has been astonishing and after 10 years at the very highest level, it would be a crying shame to see him playing a secondary role beyond January, when he could be marking another chapter in an illustrious career.

Brutal as it may seem, a move makes sense. He surely feels he has much still to offer and a fresh challenge might even lift him to his greatest heights.

Chelsea fans would miss the sight of the most famous head guard in football, but they could hardly blame him for not hanging around on the off-chance that the new number one gets injured or suffers a catastrophic loss of form.

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