Guus Hiddink has suggested that he would not have allowed Petr Cech to leave Chelsea for Arsenal if he was manager at Stamford Bridge at the time.
Cech ended his decade-long spell with Chelsea in the summer to move to the Emirates Stadium after losing his regular place to Thibaut Courtois.
The 33-year-old goalkeeper has since played an instrumental role in Arsenal going top of the Premier League while Chelsea have struggled badly.
Blues owner Roman Abramovich sanctioned the cross-London switch – Cech wanted to remain in the capital – because of his great service to the club.
But then-manager Jose Mourinho was reluctant to sell Cech to Chelsea’s rivals, and Hiddink has admitted that they lost a world-class performer who has greatly benefited the Gunners.
“I must say that Petr reacted very well in his performances,” Hiddink is quoted as saying by The Times. “You have to acknowledge that. He’s performing extremely well.
“Petr was, and is still — at 33 — one of those kind of goalies who is so determined and ambitious. We sat at a computer a lot of times. He’s so detailed and ambitious.
“I think he has proven in recent years that he’s among the top in the world. I can imagine that Petr wanted to play at the highest level, so there are all kinds of influences in that decision.
“In a season, even when you have a season on the top, you’re not always good in 38 games. You have certain periods, mostly in October and November when the leaves start falling, and then the good goalies save points for your team. He is doing that.”
Cech’s Arsenal host Chelsea in the Premier League on Sunday. The Czech international was on the losing side when he returned to Stamford Bridge for the first time in August.
Man United, Chelsea & Liverpool warned world-class striker would cost record £75m fee
(Video) Chelsea steward labels Cesc Fabregas a ‘snake’: “You’re Arsenal, what happened to you?”
VIRAL: Omari Hutchinson – Arsenal’s freestyling Ghanaian wonderkid sensation