Asmir Begovic, the Chelsea keeper, is determined to silence the critics who suggest he has put financial gain over his playing career by moving to Stamford Bridge.
Begovic ignored interest from Aston Villa to join the champions in an £8m deal from Stoke City after Chelsea veteran Petr Cech had left for Arsenal last month.
The Bosnia international has been handed a four-year deal worth £75,000 a week, a huge increase on the £45,000 a week he was earning at the Britannia Stadium.
However, with Thibaut Courtois earmarked to be Chelsea’s No 1 for the next decade, Begovic’s decision has come in for heavy criticism. But he believes he can rival Courtois for a first-team place and said: “Obviously everyone has their opinion, but for me it was more of a challenge to try something different.
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“I think I was at that stage where I want to test myself against the best and that’s ultimately what I’ve come here to do.
“Even after the first week you can see the quality here and how they can improve you with the levels and demands here,” he added. “There have been no guarantees. The challenge, the manager Jose Mourinho and players that are all here, was what attracted me and that was a big part of my decision.
“I’ll back myself, absolutely. I’ll be keeping my head down and working hard to see how I can help this team in the future. Obviously I want to try and get as many games as I can, and now I’m competing for trophies.”
Begovic’s time at Chelsea did not get off to the best start by conceding four goals in the 4-2 defeat to New York Red Bulls last week, but he looked better in the 1-1 draw with Paris Saint-Germain at the weekend.
Before Chelsea played Barcelona in Washington last night, the goalkeeping duties have been shared with Courtois, with each player getting a half each. Cech made 16 appearances last term, including in the Capital One Cup final, so Begovic is confident he can make a contribution whatever happens.
He added: “I want to test myself against Thibaut, he’s one of the best goalkeepers in the world, but I believe in myself. Hopefully every time I can show everybody what I’m all about and ultimately help this team. We all have to play our part, and at a club like this I think you get to do so.”
Meanwhile, Chelsea midfielder Cesc Fabregas has insisted his affection for Arsenal remains the same despite now playing for their London rivals. Fabregas will face his former side, where he played between 2003 and 2011, in the Community Shield on Sunday. The 28-year-old was booed by Arsenal supporters in the League game between the two sides at the Emirates Stadium in April.
But Fabregas said: “The love I have for that club will never change whatever happens. I have great memories, love and respect for the club. You will never hear anything bad from me about them.”
He added: “It’s not the most important game on Sunday, but we want to win and compete. We are not worried they might be fresher than us.
“They started pre-season 10 days before us but we are competitors. We will want to win and it will probably be a great game.”
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