The latest development in the Petr Cech to Arsenal chronicles indicate that, while Chelsea remain unwilling to furnish one of their rivals with a world-class asset, they may consider doing business if they receive a home-grown player, in addition to cash, in return.
Boosting the quota of English-reared individuals is a priority for most elite top-tier outfits and, although the Blues are better off in this respect than some, another player who satisfies the criteria in question is arguably more valuable to them than the £11m the Czech Republic stopper would reportedly command.
The ageing John Terry is the only player named on their Premier League squad list who graduated from the club’s academy, while there are only two of his teammates – Gary Cahill and Cesc Fabregas – who fit the bill under the current rules.
When the new, improved home-grown regulations come into force – that is a player must be trained by an English club three years prior to his 18th birthday, as opposed to their 21st as is currently the case – Fabregas will cease to be eligible, leaving the west Londoners a little light in this respect.
Given the shrewdness the Blues have operated with in recent transfer windows, it’s highly unlikely they’d settle for a throwaway from the Gunners academy who’d simply fill a place on the first-team roster, as Arsene Wenger is handed a player who would undoubtedly enhance his side’s title-winning prospects, which are currently priced at 4/1.
A player who could compete with those currently turning out at Stamford Bridge must be shoehorned into any potential deal, but who?
With Chelsea set to lose their reserve keeper, sourcing a replacement quickly and cheaply in this department would be a priority.
Arsenal’s equivalent Wojciech Szczesny would surely be sold if Cech was signed, but the Poland international, like Fabregas, will see his current home-grown status terminated when the new rules come into force.
Another problem area for the champions is left-back, with Filipe Luis allegedly unsettled in his understudy role to converted right-back Cesar Azpilicueta.
Should the Brazilian be shipped out, Kieran Gibbs would be a logical replacement solution, with the England ace behind Nacho Monreal in the pecking order in north London.
His attacking inclinations, however, leave him ill-suited to the Chelsea system.
Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere and Danny Welbeck are no doubt off the menu, leaving one player capable of making the Cech switch possible – Theo Walcott.
Either injured or in a contract wrangle, the 26-year-old would be no great loss to Arsenal, while his goal threat from the bench would see the former Southampton scholar fill the void created when Andre Schurrle moved to Wolfsburg.