Britain Soccer Premier League

Jose Mourinho confirms Thibaut Courtois is his new number one. What now for Petr Cech?

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On Monday Thibaut Courtois started in Chelsea’s 3-1 win over Burnley to open the Premier League season.

The 22-year-old Belgian ‘keeper, who spent the last three seasons on loan at Spanish giants Atletico Madrid and was a key part in their La Liga success, has returned to his parent club and has spent little time in ousting a club legend.

[RELATED: Burnley 1-3 Chelsea]

After guarding Chelsea’s net for over a decade, Czech Republic international Petr Cech is now second choice at Stamford Bridge.

Following Chelsea’s victory at Turf Moor on Monday, Mourinho was asked by journalists if Courtois was now his number one. Here is his response according to BBC Sport.

“Obviously a goalkeeper is not a player you are changing match after match, you must give a bit of stability, but this is about performances,” Mourinho said. “Ten years ago I had a very difficult decision to make when I had Carlo Cudicini giving fantastic performances in Chelsea’s goal for many years. I made a decision for Petr in 2004-05 because I had in my hands a keeper who I thought could be in Chelsea’s goal for many years. This situation is similar. We have to think about the future of the club and I made a decision to give the goal to Courtois.”

What now for Cech?

The Chelsea ‘keeper has won a UEFA Champions League trophy, three Premier League titles and every other trophy going domestically and in Europe over the past decade. He has become one of the greatest ‘keepers in the world and at 32, he should have at least another six or seven seasons in him. At the very least.

source: Getty Images
Despite his stellar career, Cech is no longer first choice at Chelsea.

At the age of 22 Courtois has 154 appearances with Atletico Madrid under his belt, a La Liga title, a runner up medal in the UCL final, a World Cup with Belgium and is now the main ‘keeper at Chelsea. At 6 foot 6 he looked at ease during his Premier League debut and claimed every high cross Burnley threw into the box with ease. In the second half he saved superbly from Scott Arfield and throughout his distribution with his feet was sublime.

Will Cech sit behind Courtois for most of the season? It is very likely.

If Courtois is now number one, Cech’s first team chances are looking very limited. As manager of Real Madrid Mourinho caused quite a stir when he benched the legendary Iker Casillas in favor of Diego Lopez and he is once again ousting a hugely popular goalkeeper. This time, it seems justified. Last season Cech, at times, looked unlike his usual self in goal. Mistakes here and there crept into his game and with a world class ‘keeper now challenging ahead of him, he may have to look elsewhere before the window slams shut. That said, Cech kept 16 clean sheets last season, the joint most in the PL, and also recorded the 209th shutout of his Blues career, setting a new club record. Even if he does leave in the next few weeks, his legendary status will be intact.

Looking around the Premier League, only Arsenal are really in the market for a ‘keeper from the top teams but they already added David Opsina over the summer. Elsewhere, FC Barcelona or perhaps Paris Saint-Germain could make a move for Cech. Simply put, he won’t be short of suitors.

It would be a sad way for Cech to end his Chelsea career but like Ashley Cole and Frank Lampard’s departures earlier this summer prove, everything must come to an end. Cech is one of the greatest ‘keepers Chelsea and the PL has ever seen. Now he’s not first-choice, expect to see him leave Stamford Bridge, soon.

Too early for Guardiola to concede Premier League title?

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Pep Guardiola suffered his worst-ever league defeat as a manager on Sunday as Manchester City were hammered 4-0 at Everton in the Premier League.

Post-game he was understandably glum.

[ MORE: Klopp slams United ]

Guardiola even appeared to concede the Premier League title, as the preseason favorites for the crown have now fallen 10 points behind leaders Chelsea with 17 games to go.

When asked if City’s title hopes were over after a fifth defeat of the season, the Spaniard’s answer was emphatic.

“Yes. Ten is a lot of points,” Guardiola said. “The second one [Tottenham] is three points. We have to see. I spoke to my players the last three weeks or a month, forget about the table. Focus on the next game and try to do our best to win the games and after that at the end of the season we are going to evaluate how our level and performance was — how was the coach, how was the players and after we are going to decide.”

It seems like Guardiola has already decided that the title race is over for City, but has he thrown in the towel too early?

With just five points separating second-place Tottenham with sixth-place Manchester United, it appears City’s primary focus will now be to finish in the top four as a mammoth battle ensues in the final third of the season.

Yet, we have seen some miraculous comebacks from teams in the past to win the title. These stats could give Pep hope.

In the 1997-98 season, Arsenal were 12 points behind United after 21 games of the season (United had played a game more) but roared back to win the PL by one point. And of course, City’s two PL crowns came courtesy of stunning late surges in the season with thanks to Sergio Aguero’s magic on the final day in 2011-12 and then Liverpool’s collapse in the closing weeks of 2013-14.

Pep, don’t lost the faith. It can be done.

However, if City lose to Tottenham next weekend and Chelsea extend their lead over Pep’s boys to 13 points by beating Hull City, it is curtains.

Such is the dominance of the big boys this season, City pretty much have to go unbeaten for the rest of the season to have a shot at winning the PL. Given their recent defensive displays that seems unlikely.

We all know Pep is an idealist when it comes to how he wants his team to play but now we are seeing he is a realist too.

Conte urges players “money is not everything” amid Costa rumors

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 04: Antonio Conte, Manager of Chelsea reacts during the Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea at White Hart Lane on January 4, 2017 in London, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
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While new reports are suggesting that China will have to curb its massive spending, Antonio Conte has urged his players that they don’t have to be tempted by the Chinese Super League.

[ MORE: United, Liverpool finish level after late Ibrahimovic equalizer ]

Chelsea currently sits atop the Premier League — seven points clear of Tottenham and Liverpool — but the club has recently been at the center of controversy as star striker Diego Costa has been linked with a move away from the club.

[ MORE: CSL set to limit number of foreign players per team ]

Costa missed his side’s 3-0 win over Leicester City on Saturday after several outlets reported a rift between the Spaniard and Conte.

The Chelsea manager told reporters following the match that Costa wasn’t available due to a back injury he suffered in training, but there has been continued speculation that the 28-year-old could head to China.

Conte has made it clear to his squad though that the quality of competition in England supersedes the money offered abroad.

“The money is not everything,” Conte told reporters. “When you play for a great team like Chelsea, you must be pleased.

“I think we are a great club and it is a great honour to play for Chelsea. For this reason I don’t see [China] as a threat for my players.

The Blues have lost a number of high-profile players over recent seasons to the high spending of Chinese football, including Brazilian duo Oscar and Ramires, as well as John Obi Mikel.

Oscar departed Chelsea this month to join Shanghai SIPG for a reported $72 million.

“I have to look at the past,” Conte said. “Oscar played with us, had a good offer from China and he went.

“But this league is really competitive and every player wants to come and play in this league.

“This league is the first in the world because of a lot of positive things, so I don’t think these offers from China are a threat for our league.”

Report: Ian Harkes expected to sign with DC United

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D.C. United didn’t have a top 10 selection in the MLS SuperDraft, but the club is likely to end up with one of the most talented collegiate players in the game.

[ MORE: Robinson, Ebobisse headline latest U.S. U-20 roster ]

According to the Washington Post, D.C. United is expected to sign Wake Forest attacker Ian Harkes to a multi-year contract.

[ MORE: Galaxy keeper Rowe replaces Frei with USMNT ]

Harkes, 21, came up through D.C.’s academy system before playing all four years for the Demon Deacons. The midfielder has gained significant notoriety over his college career, which concluded with Hermann Trophy honors following his senior senior.

As a former member of the D.C. academy, Harkes didn’t have to declare for the SuperDraft and is expected to sign a Homegrown contract with D.C. United in the coming days.

Harkes has also been considering his options abroad, which included second-division sides in England, where he was born. Ian is the son of former U.S. Men’s National Team star John Harkes, who played both in the United States and England over his professional career.

Bayern Munich signs Suele and Rudy from Hoffenheim

MILAN, ITALY - NOVEMBER 15:  Sebastian Rudy of Germany controls the ball during the International Friendly Match between Italy and Germany at Giuseppe Meazza Stadium on November 15, 2016 in Milan, .  (Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images)
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MUNICH (AP) German champion Bayern Munich has signed center half Niklas Suele and central midfielder Sebastian Rudy from Hoffenheim, with both players due to complete the season with their current club before joining on July 1.

[ MORE: Ibrahimovic rescues draw for United against Liverpool ]

Bayern said Sunday on its website that Rudy – who is out of contract in the summer – has signed a three-year deal until 2020 while Suele has agreed a five-year deal until June 2022.

[ MORE: Morata to Chelsea? Dybala staying put? ]

“Signing two Germany internationals is an investment in FC Bayern’s future,” Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said. “Sebastian Rudy joins us on a free transfer. In the case of Niklas Suele we have reached a fair and serious agreement with Hoffenheim.”

The 26-year-old Rudy has played 177 league games for Hoffenheim since joining from Stuttgart in 2010, while the 21-year-old Suele is a homegrown talent and has made 90 league appearances with the club.

“In terms of it being a farewell I feel a little wistful,” Suele said on Bayern’s website, adding that the move gives him the chance of “maturing further with one of the best teams in the world.”

Suele’s signing appears to be linked to the form of long-serving Bayern defender Holger Badstuber, who has been sent on loan to Schalke to get more game time.

The long-serving center-back has struggled with injuries in recent years and is not in Bayern coach Carlo Ancelotti’s plans, having played only three games this season, starting just once.