By Arsenal correspondent Tony Hughes
Petr Cech’s transfer to Arsenal, which will be completed within days, has been painted as a geographical convenience.
The 33-year-old and his family are settled in London. His son Damian and daughter Adela are registered at schools in the capital. He does not need to up sticks and move house.
All are true. Yet football reasons have been as integral as familial ones in Cech choosing to make the rare move from west to north London.
As befitting a player of his class and consistency, the 33-year-old had options. There was strong interest from Manchester United as they shortlisted possible successors to Real Madrid-bound David de Gea, while Paris Saint-Germain also made an offer to Cech.
The serial winner, who won every major honour during his 11 years at Stamford Bridge, wanted a team who can challenge for trophies, a side on the ‘up’.
According to one source close to the situation, Cech regards Arsenal as better equipped to compete for the Premier League title and assorted cup competitions next season than United.
In short, he views Arsene Wenger’s team as stronger than Louis van Gaal’s side and more likely to challenge Chelsea in 2015-16.
It is why he made the decision last month to move to Emirates Stadium rather than Old Trafford and quickly agreed personal terms with Arsenal after being given permission by Chelsea to hold talks with the north Londoners.
Arsenal and United saw little sign of a drop in Cech standards last season even though he had lost his regular starting place to Thibaut Courtois. At both clubs, he would have arrived as the undisputed No1.
For £11m, Wenger has bought more than the oustanding Premier League goalkeeper of the last decade. He has recruited an excellent professional with a winning mentality that he hopes will rub off on the newcomer’s younger team-mates.
Arsenal made strides last season by clinching their second consecutive FA Cup trophy and sealing third place in the league without any of the nervous moments of previous years following a strong finish to the campaign.
But there is still some way to go for Wenger’s team to be authentic title challengers. They are convinced Cech can narrow the gap between his former and soon-to-be new employers. So is the player himself.