Petr Cech has returned to Chelsea as technical and performance adviser with the intention of working closely with the director Marina Granovskaia and the Europa League winners' prospective new head coach, Frank Lampard.
Chelsea hope to make more progress on securing Lampard from Derby County next week having identified him as their preferred candidate to replace the departed Maurizio Sarri. They would have to pay £4 million (€4.4 million) for the 41-year-old, who is on holiday in France, and will also seek to secure his assistants Jody Morris and Chris Jones, who have had spells on the staff at Stamford Bridge. No official approach for Lampard has been made.
Cech is the first of the old guard to return in what is likely to be a radical revamp of their backroom staff, with his arrival to curtail Chelsea's pursuit of a sporting director to fill the role vacated by Michael Emenalo in November 2017.
He will work between Granovskaia – the influential director who will continue as chief transfer negotiator and effectively runs the club on a daily basis for the owner, Roman Abramovich – and the football staff "to provide advice on all football and performance matters throughout the club, as well as embed and facilitate strong links between our men's and academy teams".
The 37-year-old, whose glittering playing career ended in May when Arsenal lost to Chelsea in the Europa League final, will be based at Cobham but will be considered a member of the first-team's coaching and backroom staff, travelling with the senior side home and away with the emphasis of his role on strategy and performance.
“I feel very privileged to have this opportunity to join Chelsea again and help create the best possible high-level performance environment to continue the success the club has had over the past 15 years,” he said. “I’m looking forward to the new challenge and hope I can use all of my football knowledge and experience to help the team achieve even more success.”
Many of the coaches involved under Antonio Conte and Sarri – including Gianfranco Zola and possibly Carlo Cudicini – are likely to depart or see their duties tweaked as part of the revamp. Six who joined under Sarri were on one-year deals and are expected to leave. The club's former midfielder Claude Makelele left his role as manager of Belgian side KAS Eupen this month and has been earmarked to take on the position overseeing Chelsea's sizeable loan group.
Joe Edwards, highly regarded in the academy set-up, could move from the under-23s to the senior coaching set-up, and there could be a new role for Eddie Newton, who monitors the players on loan. Chelsea have a group of their former players, including Joe Cole, Tore André Flo and Paulo Ferreira, working at Cobham in a coaching capacity with the junior age groups.
Cech played 494 games for Chelsea and kept a club record 228 clean sheets over an 11-year stint, claiming 13 major honours. The pinnacle was the 2012 European Cup final, when his penalty saves in extra time and a shoot-out paved the way for Chelsea to beat Bayern Munich.
“We are delighted to welcome Petr back home to Chelsea,” Granovskaia said. “He was one of the most thoughtful professionals we have ever had. We always hoped that when Petr retired we would see him back at Chelsea and we are thrilled to add his expertise and knowledge of the game to the technical staff.”