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Mar 29, 2012

(world soccer news):Petr Cech can extend Chelsea career after André Villas-Boas exit

The Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech may have been deemed expendable had André Villas-Boas remained as manager. Photograph: Paul Ellis/AFP/Getty Images
André Villas-Boas's sacking at Chelsea may have saved Petr Cech's career at Stamford Bridge after it emerged the goalkeeper was among the players the Portuguese manager wanted to move on in a summer of rebuilding in which Edinson Cavani and Hulk were his top targets.
Three weeks after the brief and turbulent Villas-Boas era was ended, the full extent of his rebuilding plans demonstrates how determined he was to break up the old guard at Stamford Bridge and create a completely different team to re-establish the club as authentic title challengers.
Villas-Boas was not only determined to sever his ties with Frank Lampard and Michael Essien, as well as Didier Drogba, Paulo Ferreira, Salomon Kalou and Florent Malouda, but was not convinced by Cech's performances and had talked to Roman Abramovich about selling the man who once had legitimate claims to be recognised as the best goalkeeper in the world. Rui Patrício, the Sporting Lisbon goalkeeper, was one possible replacement and Villas-Boas also wanted to bring back Thibaut Courtois, Chelsea's 19-year-old Belgian, from a loan spell at Atlético Madrid in which the teenager has excelled.
Cavani, the Napoli forward, had been identified to replace Drogba on the back of the Uruguayan's brilliant performances in Serie A and the Champions League, while Villas-Boas had also asked Abramovich for the money to sign Hulk, the Brazilian striker who had helped him win the Portuguese title with Porto. The initial advances had already been made for both players, with Abramovich particularly involved in the case of Cavani, and it may still be that one or both of them is targeted regardless of who replaces Villas-Boas on a permanent basis.
Now back in Portugal, Villas-Boas's strong suspicion is that several players spoke out against him directly to Abramovich in the wake of the 3-1 Champions League first-leg defeat against Napoli last month, when he left Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole out of a team already missing the injured John Terry. Chelsea's 1-0 defeat at West Brom 11 days later led to his sacking and he is now waiting to finalise a severance agreement while Roberto Di Matteo, appointed on a caretaker basis, has overseen a transformation that includes overcoming Napoli 4-1 in the second leg of their Champions League tie and then beating Benfica 1-0 at Estádio da Luz in the first leg of the quarter-final on Tuesday. As part of the payoff, an agreement will be in place that Villas-Boas does not discuss publicly the dressing-room secrets from his time at the London club. In particular Chelsea do not want him to reveal the deterioration in his relationship with senior players such as Lampard and Cole, which had suffered to the point where the atmosphere at the training ground was openly mutinous at times. Cole is also said to have fallen out with Malouda, and the 34-year-old Villas-Boas will privately admit he found it difficult bringing together a dressing room containing so many strong personalities.
Fernando Torres, however, was one of the players Villas-Boas wanted to keep, despite the striker enduring the worst form of his professional life since arriving from Liverpool for £50m 14 months ago. Abramovich, too, is determined not to give up on a player he had been desperate to sign. The idea was to begin next season with Cavani, Hulk, Torres and Daniel Sturridge as striking options.
As for the lengthy list of players who were considered expendable, Cech's name is the most surprising given that he is the current Chelsea player of the year and has been one of the bedrocks of their success in the Abramovich years. The Czech Republic international does not turn 30 until May, which is far from old in goalkeeping terms, but Villas-Boas was not fully satisfied with his performances and there is a sense in the football world that Cech's performances may not be at the same level as his first few years at the club.

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