Jose Mourinho has reiterated his desire to see Petr Cech remain at Chelsea but may have inadvertently opened the door for him to join a Premier League rival by revealing that he has no preference regarding his next club in the event that the experienced goalkeeper does depart in the near future.
Cech, who first moved to Stamford Bridge from Ligue 1 side Rennes in 2004, is widely expected to seek a transfer this summer after his long reign as undisputed first-choice was ended at the start of the campaign following the return of Thibaut Courtois from a productive three-year loan spell at Atletico Madrid.
The 33-year-old has been restricted to just five league starts during Chelsea's title-winning campaign to date and obviously retains a degree of loyalty towards the club with whom he has won the Premier League on four occasions as well as four FA Cups, three League Cups and both major European competitions over a highly successful 13-year span.
However, with Courtois having performed so admirably during his first season in English football it seems extremely probable that Cech will continue to be restricted to fleeting appearances in cup competitions if he were to remain in West London.
Both Arsenal and Liverpool have been mentioned in connection with a possible move for the Czech Republic international with doubts remaining over the long-term qualities of respective number ones David Ospina and Simon Mignolet.
Manchester United, meanwhile, could also enter the race for his signature as the contract saga involving David de Gea continues to rumble on amid sustained and serious interest from Real Madrid.
Paris Saint-Germain are also believed to be in the running as the player understandably seeks to join another club capable of helping him compete for yet more silverware.
"I keep saying I would like [Cech] to stay," Mourinho said during a press conference held at Chelsea's Cobham training complex.
"In case he leaves, I have no preferences [on where he goes]. I hope he is fit to play the last game of the season."
Chelsea face Sunderland on 24 May in their final fixture of a hugely impressive season that will culminate in the squad lifting the Premier League trophy for the first time since 2010 before embarking upon a parade for supporters on Bank Holiday Monday.
Mourinho was handed yet more positive news before the visit of Dick Advocaat's Black Cats with the announcement that he has been named as the Premier League Manager of the Season.
"I was not waiting for it, I was never Manager of the Month, but I'm happy with it," the Portuguese boss said of his latest achievement, while also appearing to step back somewhat from his earlier claims that there had been a campaign against his side this year.
"It's a club trophy, not an individual one. It's for me, my assistants, my players, everybody who works with me. It's something you don't just get by yourself. It's the icing on the cake but I work for the cake. The Premier League is the real cake but obviously to be the Manager of the Season is nice."
Eden Hazard collected the players' award.