Chelsea’s upcoming FA Cup fixture against Barnsley could see the return of Spanish goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga. The 26-year-old is yet to feature under new boss Thomas Tuchel following his lack of form over the last year. However, according to Matt Law of The Telegraph, the Chelsea hierarchy are not ready to give up on him just yet.
Kepa’s first season with Chelsea in 2018 was a promising one. He was Maurizio Sarri’s first-choice keeper throughout the season, culminating with a Europa League victory for the blues. However, since then his form has dropped significantly leading to him being replaced by Edouard Mendy.
Chelsea Board Not Giving up on Kepa
A Clean Slate Under Tuchel
Kepa’s Chelsea career was seeming to be headed nowhere under the previous manager Frank Lampard. However, the arrival of Thomas Tuchel has meant that the slate has been wiped clean for many Chelsea players. The likes of Marcos Alonso, Cesar Azpilicueta and Antonio Rudiger now all find themselves in the starting team despite being left out by Lampard. This could also be the case for Kepa, but first, he must prove himself.
Repeated mistakes cost Kepa his spot in the team but Thursday’s game against Barnsley would be the perfect opportunity for him to turn things around. Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia spoke personally with the Spaniard at length last summer to offer support and provide a clear path forward in his Chelsea career. It is obvious that the board do not want to sell him just yet. With five years remaining on his contract, there is still time for Kepa to turn it around, but he must do it soon.
Big Price Tag Created Pressure
Chelsea signed Kepa in 2018 for £71.6 million making him the most expensive goalkeeper ever. Unfortunately, he has not lived up to expectations with the pressure seeming to be too much for him. However, his attempt to adapt to life in England has been made more difficult due to external factors.
Coming to England from a close-knit family in Spain has proved difficult for Kepa. Harsh and crass comments on his social media has led to him closing replies on his Twitter. It is clear that through an already difficult time in his career, Kepa has been left in solitude with little support. Kepa and those in his circle are not excusing his poor performance on this. But abusive comments have certainly not helped him in his search for form.
However, a first appearance under Tuchel could be the opportunity for him to turn things around. Facing lower league opposition could give the boost of confidence that Kepa needs to regain from.
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