How Petr Cech has ensured Chelsea don’t have to enter the biggest transfer saga of the summer

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Chelsea’s need for a new goalkeeper was clear long before the extended 2019/20 campaign had drawn to a close. Kepa Arriazbalga’s form had nosedived and to such an extent that 38-year-old Willy Caballero was preferred for the crunch end-of-season fixtures.

The Blues were linked with a host of top-level goalkeepers, all more expensive than the next. A move for Jan Oblak was mooted but that would’ve set the club back more than £100million.

So Chelsea instead attempted to find value in the market and, with a lot of help from technical director and club legend Petr Cech, settled on Rennes’ 28-year-old goalkeeper Edouard Mendy.

“Part of my job is obviously to know about players when I’m asked by the club or the manager,” Cech told BT Sport in November when discussing how the £22millon deal for Mendy came about.

“I have to give credit to Christophe Lollichon [now head of Chelsea’s goalkeeper department] who spoke to me three-and-a-half years ago when Edouard started playing for Rennes.

“The one thing which is great about his story is the year he was without a club because of his agent. So while I was playing at Arsenal Christophe told me, ‘Look at this goalkeeper he’s got a very interesting story.’

He’s kept the role ever since. Mendy made 44 appearances during his debut campaign at Stamford Bridge and went from strength to strength.

His performances in the Champions League, in particular, were outstanding. The 29-year-old conceded just three goals in his 12 appearances, a record in the competition, to help the Blues lift the big-eared trophy in Porto on Saturday.

Having proved himself time and time again, Mendy is, without a doubt, Chelsea’s goalkeeper for the seasons to come. And that means the club can steer clear of what is likely to be the biggest transfer saga of the summer window.

Namely, where will Gianluigi Donnarumma end up once his AC Milan contract expires at the end of this month?

The 22-year-old is one of the finest goalkeepers in European football and given he will not cost a transfer fee, there are a host of clubs queuing to secure his services. Juventus have been linked, Barcelona too. There is also supposed interest from Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain.

Chelsea have been mentioned in the Italian press as a potential suitor for Donnarumma, who is represented by Mino Raiola.

Yet the assured performances of Mendy make an approach from the Blues almost unthinkable. And there are far bigger priorities on the club’s agenda: a centre forward and a central midfielder to name two.

The Blues’ goalkeeper situation has very much gone full circle in less than a year. There’s no doubt that had Donnarumma been available last summer that now champions of Europe would’ve been in the race and doing everything they could to turn Raiola’s head.

Now they can sit back and watch the rest scramble to appease the Italian international’s agent in order to get a deal done. And that’s all down to Mendy, with a deserved nod to Cech, of course.

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