Kepa Arrizabalaga has been having the most difficult time of his goalkeeping career at Chelsea due to some of the costly mistakes he has been making in between the sticks for the Premier League club.
Though Kepa is Chelsea’s record-signing goalkeeper, his performance has made him a topic of ridicule among football fans across the world. His performance has also forced the club to sign another goalkeeper, Edouard Mendy to cover up for him.
In 2018 when the 25-year-old Spain international joined Chelsea from Athletic Bilbao for £71 million, Kepa was seen as a goalkeeper who would become a legend at the club like Petr Čech. But he was not able to live up to expectation despite the numerous opportunities coach Frank Lampard has given him.
When Mendy arrived at the club from Rennes for just £22 million, Kepa was expected to double up and do better than he has ever done in order to guarantee his place in Lampard’s squad. Instead, when Chelsea played Liverpool about a week after Mendy’s arrival, Kepa failed to perform but ended up making mistakes that led to Chelsea losing 2-0.
After the match, Frank Lampard dropped him out of the club’s starting eleven and replaced him with Mendy. Hence, the 28-year-old Senegal international made his first Premier League appearance on October 3 against Crystal Palace. The match ended 4-0 in favor of Chelsea which happened to be the club’s first clean sheet in the Premier League this season.
Mendy’s overall performance in the match made Kepa’s critics believe that it would be almost impossible for the Spanish goalkeeper to return as Chelsea’s first-choice goalkeeper. But Kepa thinks otherwise.
He said: “I feel good, strong, and confident. Maybe not the dream and expected situation. We have to experience things like this during our careers as footballers. I need to carry on working calmly.
“I am confident to turn the situation around. When I have the opportunity to play I will try to do it the best possible.”
Kepa is expected to be on duty for Spain today, October 7, when the country faces Portugal in an international friendly. After that, he could also be on duty on October 10 and 13 when Spain faces Switzerland and Ukraine respectively in the European Nations League campaign.
However, it might not be a straight start for the 25-year-old goalkeeper as he has Manchester United’s David De Gea and Athletic Bilbao’s Unai Simón to compete with for Spain’s goalkeeping position.
After the international break, Kepa will return to London to continue his drive to return to his prime at the club. If he can impress coach Lampard, the coach might be tempted to use him ahead of Mendy on October 17 when the club plays against Southampton in the league.