Arsenal boss explains why important signing was ‘very difficult decision’
PUBLISHED: 07:00 23 January 2016
PA Wire/Press Association Images
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger insists the decision to sign Petr Cech from Chelsea was not a no-brainer.
Wenger brought in the former Chelsea goalkeeper in the summer for a fee in the region of £11m and he has been a key addition as Arsenal top the Premier League after 22 games.
David Ospina earned the spot as the Gunners’ first-choice keeper last season but signing Cech meant the Colombian was demoted to a backup role, having only appeared in the cup competitions this season.
Wenger admits it was a difficult decision to replace Ospina with Cech as he rates the backup shot-stopper very highly.
“It was a very, very difficult decision for me because I rated Ospina highly,” Wenger said.
“I have a high opinion of him and he is a goalkeeper that I think is under-rated, especially in England.
“But that was one of the few opportunities to say ‘it’s obvious’. I think to not do it would have been a mistake.
Wenger says he had some doubts over Cech’s ability to perform at the top level at the age of 33, but his fears were put to rest when he met the Czech keeper in person.
“I didn’t know what kind of shape he was in physically because he hadn’t played but when I met him I was quickly reassured by his desire to do well and his motivation.
“I didn’t know how much physically he still could produce because he didn’t play at Chelsea so was that linked with a drop in his physical aptitude?
“But I know Petr Cech because he played there for 11 years and we played against him a lot, so I knew that the potential was exceptional. It was just a question of how motivated he still is and physically could he do it?”