18 June 2015

Ospina to Fener, Roberts to Swansea= Čech to Arsenal?

A game of musical chairs seems to have opened up with stories circulating of David Ospina being sold for £3.9m to Turkish side Fenerbahçe, which would leave us with just one experienced keeper in the first team (sorry, Emi). A parallel story sees Academy coach Tony Roberts leaving for Swansea, rejoining Łukasz Fabiański. The openings that these moves create might then both be filled in by the arrival of Chelsea's goalkeeping coach Christophe Lollichon and Petr Čech. While none of this is confirmed, it makes for a whirlwind early in the window that augurs well for our ambitions giong forward.

Ospina to Fener has been making the rounds for a few days now. Turkish newspaper HaberTurk reports that the deal would not be made official until Ospina finishes playing in the Copa America where, despite a comically bad back-pass, Colombia managed to defeat Brazil 0-1. Colombia will face Peru, bottom of Group C, for a chance to advance to the knockout stage and potentially postponing any announcements for another week or more. Ospina turned in a solid spell for us after the relegation of Szczęsny.

Step two in this little procession centers on Tony Roberts, who coached both Szczęsny and Fabiański. Born in Wales, Roberts might prefer a return to the country of his birth over a return to coaching our youth.

Step three then would be the potential arrival of Lollichon, who has worked closely with Čech from 2002 to 2004 at Rennes (whereupon Čech left for Chelsea) and again when Lollichon came to Chelsea in 2007. According to Lollichon himself, it was Čech who texted him the invitation to join Chelsea. Lollichon has been uncomfortable with Čech's demotion, saying this:
It’s not easy because you’ve got a  goalkeeper like Petr who is at the top of his form.I have a relationship with Petr, who is a special person. We’ve been working together (at Chelsea) for eight years. Our relationship goes beyond just the sporting side.
Collichon, who is French (no small thing at Arsenal...), clearly respects Čech and to see him cast aside as Mourinho has done must chafe Collicon a bit, much as it must Čech. With Arsenal on the verge of seeing its own keeper and keeper-coach leave, and with the rumours around Čech having persisted for days if not weeks, it's getting harder and harder to resist the notion that Arsène has already confirmed a deal with Chelsea. It's difficult to imagine him agreeing to let both Ospina (under contract until 2019) and Roberts leave without first making sure that he has a replacement lined up, at least for the player.

Let's say we do see the arrival of both men from Chelsea. Setting aside whatever symbolism is at stake when a player leaves Chelsea for Arsenal, let's focus instead on the impact it would have on our squad. Would Čech expect to walk into the starting lineup? After all, he'd be replacing Ospina, who finished the season as our #1. Or does Szczęsny, having minded the sticks during our run to a second consecutive FA Cup title, reclaim his spot?