Sources: Cech set for Chelsea director role

LONDON -- Chelsea are set to finalise the return of Petr Cech to Stamford Bridge in a technical role, sources have told ESPN FC.

Cech will assume some of the responsibilities once held by former technical director Michael Emenalo, who has not been formally replaced by Chelsea since resigning in November 2017.

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Chelsea hope that Cech's return will bring more coherence to a decision-making structure that has appeared disjointed at times since Emenalo's departure, as well as reassuring disillusioned fans about the club's broader direction.

Informal talks about a role for Cech at Stamford Bridge began several months ago, but out of respect to their former goalkeeper Chelsea were determined to wait until the end of the season to step up their efforts to bring him back.

The last match of Cech's professional career ended in a 4-1 defeat for his Arsenal side against Chelsea in the Europa League final in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Cech won 13 major trophies in 11 years at Chelsea, including four Premier League titles and the 2012 Champions League. He lives near the club's Cobham training base and has maintained good relationships with all key personnel, including owner Roman Abramovich.

The definitive sign of Abramovich's high regard for Cech came in the summer of 2015, when the Chelsea owner honoured his goalkeeper's wish to remain in London on leaving Stamford Bridge, allowing him to join rivals Arsenal against the wishes of then-manager Jose Mourinho.

Cech went on to win the FA Cup in 2017 at the expense of his former club, and retired at Arsenal as the record-holder for most clean sheets in Premier League history (202). He also holds the competition record for most clean sheets kept in a season (24), set with Chelsea in their title-winning 2004-05 campaign.

The decision to bring back Cech has been made irrespective of who Chelsea's head coach will be next season. Maurizio Sarri is expected to join Juventus despite a disagreement between the two clubs over compensation, and the search for potential replacements has already begun.

Cech's former Chelsea teammate Frank Lampard has been widely touted as the front-runner to succeed Sarri after enjoying a positive first season in management at Derby County, while sources told ESPN FC this week that Watford boss Javi Gracia is also in the frame.