Arsene Wenger has played up Petr Cech as one of the ‘outstanding’ goalkeepers in world football after finally landing the Czech international following a 13-year pursuit.
The 33-year-old completed his £11 million move to the Emirates on Monday after Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich sanctioned the cross-city deal as a reward for his hard work and loyalty over the course of 11 years at Stamford Bridge.
Speaking to Arsenal.com about the signing, Wenger said: “Petr Cech is a player that I have admired for a long time and I am very pleased that he has decided to join us.
“He has proven over many seasons that he is one of the outstanding keepers in the world and he will add great strength to our squad.”
The boss has long admired Cech, revealing in 2005 that the Plzen-born stopper had slipped through his fingers while still on the books at Sparta Prague.
Unable to secure the necessary paperwork to join the Gunners in 2002, Cech instead moved to Ligue 1 side Rennes before switching to Chelsea two years later.
Speaking a decade ago, Wenger lamented: “We wanted to take him before he went to Rennes but we could not get a work permit. At the time he had not played the necessary amount of games for his national team.
“Yes, we missed out – but these things happen. He is not the only player we have missed out on. And when he moved to France we still had David Seaman and we had Jens Lehmann. But Cech is doing well and he is developing well. He has what you need to play in England. He has the size and that is vital.
“People don’t realise how important that is. You get offered a goalkeeper of six feet-plus who is doing well in a Latin country. He comes here and he gets slaughtered. Therefore I feel Cech has the ingredients you need to be successful in England. Then last year, Chelsea did well. They bought him very early.”
Elsewhere, legendary Gunners keeper David Seaman rates Cech so highly that he believes the new boy’s acquisition could make the difference as Arsenal seek a first league title since 2004.
Speaking to BreatheSport, the 51-year-old noted: “Chelsea’s loss could, and likely will, be Arsenal’s gain. In my opinion this signing could genuinely be the difference between who will come first and who will come second next season.”
Seaman added in an interview on talkSPORT: “When somebody of that stature comes in it steadies the defence down. They’ll enjoy playing in front of Cech because he is a talker and he’s an organiser as well. I’m so happy he’s an Arsenal keeper.”
Cech is expected to start pre-season training in the coming days and will compete with Wojciech Szczesny for the right to start the season in goal against Chelsea in the Community Shield on 2 August. It remains to be seen what happens to David Ospina who is now on holiday following Colombia’s exit from the Copa America.