Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has once again insisted that goalkeeper Petr Cech is still a crucial part of his squad, amid rumours linking the veteran with a winter exit.
Cech, 32, was linked to the likes of Real Madrid, Monaco and Paris Saint-Germain in August after losing his starting job to Thibaut Courtois, and has seen just 66 minutes of Premier League football since.
Restricted to just four starts across the Champions League and Capital One Cup, the Czech Republic international is said to be far from pleased about his current predicament, and is reported to be considering his options ahead of the coming transfer window.
With Arsenal and Liverpool also mentioned as potential suitors in recent weeks, fans and the media alike have been left wondering whether Mourinho would be willing to sell to a league rival, but the Portuguese boss appears determined to hold of his former number one.
“The most important thing is what he brings to the team on the pitch, which is top quality,” he told Yahoo-Eurosport.
“When Courtois was injured against Arsenal and Petr Cech comes to play on minute 20, I was so calm. I wasn't worried about a change of goalkeeper.
“So when you have on the bench a super goalkeeper like Petr Cech this is the most important thing.
“I have to feed that ambition to keep him... I'm not saying happy happy, because to be happy a player must play every game... but at least to make him feel that we like him, we respect him and we need him.”
Despite Mourinho’s comments, some reports have claimed that Cech could attempt to force a move in the New Year, but agent Viktor Kolar admitted last week that a lack of desirable options on the market could keep his client at Stamford Bridge until the summer.
"In the football world you can never rule out anything definitively, however, if you put together the facts with Petr's ambitions of a top-class goalkeeper, you will not be left with too many options," he told the Czech press.
"If we add to this the actual little need of these few clubs to search a new goalkeeper in the winter's transfer window, then you will find out that the chance of a transfer in the next weeks or months is not very high."