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.

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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.

Rapids hire Patel as director; Highest ranking female exec in MLS

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The Colorado Rapids have hired Ena Patel as their new director of player personnel. She becomes Major League Soccer highest ranking female executive, according to the Denver Post.

[ FOLLOW: PST’s MLS coverage ]

According to the Rapids, she’ll report to club GM Padraig Smith and “oversee player contracts, salary budget, regulatory compliance, and soccer operations protocols.”

The move comes about a month-and-a-half after Sporting KC hired Megan Cameron as an assistant director of player personnel, the first woman hired to an MLS team’s technical staff.

Patel’s resume is outlandishly strong, though this is her first foray into the sports world. Here are some words from Smith, from ColoradoRapids.com:

“Ena’s hiring is the final piece of the puzzle for us on the front office side,” Smith, the Rapids executive vice president and general manager, said in a statement released by the club. “Bringing in a sharp, legal mind who can oversee our contractual processes and complex league mechanisms is a really important part of ensuring that we’re fielding the best possible team. We can’t wait for her to get started.”

Guardiola happy to reach final, knows Man City to be judged by hardware

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Bristol City made its interesting late with a pair of goals, but Manchester City’s League Cup destiny was never in jeopardy in a 3-2 second leg win at Ashton Gate Stadium on Tuesday.

[ RECAP: Bristol City 2-3 (3-5 agg.) Man City ]

That sent the club into the Feb. 25 final with a 5-3 aggregate win, and it’s very difficult not to leap to the story line that is Pep Guardiola‘s chance at a first significant title in his reign at Man City.

The closest City came to hardware last season was being bounced by Arsenal in the FA Cup semifinal. This time, City is the favorite to win at least three of its four entered competitions: the Premier League, the League Cup, and the FA Cup.

But to hear Pep say it, for now the club is just happy to have earned one final berth. From the BBC:

“We are so happy to be there, to reach this final. We played an amazing game until 2-0 and then we lost control, these type of games never end until the end. This is a lesson for next weekend in Cardiff in the FA Cup and especially for the Champions League.

“It’s not for me, it’s for Manchester City, a club who are trying to reach another level. … I know that we will be judged by trophies we win but we are so happy. Nobody can take away what we have done, but Chelsea or Arsenal are strong teams.”

Guardiola was serious about not overlooking the Robins, as he rolled out a very similar lineup to the full-strength bunch that beat Newcastle United 3-1 at the weekend. That may have cost City late, but it had already built a 4-1 aggregate lead with two superior away goals.

Yes, Guardiola is a man who measures himself by the way his club plays but also by winning in that attractive fashion. Expect a determined club to stride into Wembley late next month.

Chelsea and Arsenal square off Wednesday at the Emirates Stadium for the right to match up with Man City, who won the tournament in 2014 and 2016. Even year dominance?

Man City into League Cup final (video)

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  • City outshoots Bristol 28-5
  • Sane, Aguero put MCFC up 2-0
  • Pack, Kent pulls two back for Bristol
  • De Bruyne answers in stoppage
  • City wins 5-3 on aggregate

A pair of late goals put a scare into Man City, but the Premier League leaders scored just before and right after halftime to insure its first leg lead en route to a 3-2 win over Bristol City at Ashton Gate Stadium on Tuesday.

City wins 5-3 on aggregate in the League Cup semifinal, with Sergio Aguero, Leroy Sane, and Kevin De Bruyne scoring in the second leg.

Pep Guardiola moves to within 90 minutes of his first significant title as Man City boss, and will face either Chelsea or Arsenal on Feb. 25 at Wembley Stadium.

Marlon Pack and Aden Flint scored for Bristol City.

[ MORE: Full stats, box score ]

Sane scored in the 43rd minute and Sergio Aguero struck less than four minutes after the teams returned from the halftime break.

An errant John Stones clearance helped Bristol to the scoreboard in the 64th minute, with Pack scoring the goal.

Flint then nodded home in stoppage time to give the Robins hope for a miracle win, but new contract hero De Bruyne scored within a minute to burn those hopes to the ground.

Bristol would be in the Football League Championship playoffs if the season ended now, sitting in fifth place.

Midfielder Lassana Diarra joins PSG on short-term deal

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PARIS (AP) Paris Saint-Germain has made its first signing of the winter transfer window by hiring midfielder Lassana Diarra on a short-term deal until June 2019.

The 32-year-old holding midfielder will once again try to revive his career in the French league after a successful stint at PSG’s bitter rival, Marseille, that ended last year.

The much-traveled Diarra, who was born in Paris, then played for a few months with United Arab Emirates club Al Jazira.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Diarra, a former Chelsea, Arsenal and Real Madrid player, won English and Spanish league titles in 2006 and 2012. He has 34 caps for France and featured at the European Championship in 2008.

His strong performances with Marseille earned him a recall from France, but he eventually pulled out of Didier Deschamps’ squad for Euro 2016 because of a left knee injury.

“I am very happy to have signed for my hometown club,” Diarra said. “Paris Saint-Germain represents a lot to me and, with the international dimension the club has taken in recent seasons, it is every player’s dream to play here. I am lucky enough to make this dream come true.”

Diarra joined on a free transfer and his signing won’t affect PSG’s bank accounts, which are under UEFA’s scrutiny.

PSG is under pressure to sell players to balance the books after splashing out 402 million euros ($473 million) on forwards Neymar and Kylian Mbappe last year. That led to Qatari-owned PSG being placed under investigation by UEFA for potential breaches of Financial Fair Play rules.