Since the turn of the Century, Chelsea as a club has experienced an era with great players who proudly wore the badge of the Club in great positions which in turn made them Legends. “Super Frankie”, “Captain, Leader, Legend” and “King Didier” are common phrases in respect to the achievements and contributions of now manager, Frank Lampard, then Captain, John Terry and former striker, Didier Drogba. These legends alongside Petr Cech, goalkeeper at the bridge for 11 years making 333 appearances in goal were instrumental to the silverware wins under the ownership of billionaire, Roman Abramovich.
Petr Cech undoubtedly one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time was easily a Fan’s favourite as he played himself into the heart of the fans through his heroics at the Club with major reference to Chelsea’s Champions League win back in 2012.
Petr Cech’s presence in goal helped Chelsea to titles and winning several games, with him setting standards at the bridge of what a world-class goalkeeper must look like.
This image has been existing in the minds of Chelsea fans around the globe as anything less would not be welcomed by the fans. Thibaut Courtois’ arrival from Atletico Madrid in 2014 after the completion of his loan spell pushed veteran, Petr Cech to North London, with the then 33-year-old joining Arsenal.
Thibaut Courtois’s time with Chelsea proved successful as the Club won the Premier League title in 2015 and 2017. Courtois desired a move abroad back to Spain with Real Madrid signing the Belgian for a reported €39 million.
Courtois’ immediate move to the Spanish capital back in 2018 left Chelsea desperately in need for a goalkeeper which saw the Club acquire the services of Kepa Arrizabalaga from Athletic Bilbao after triggering His release clause which made the Spaniard the most expensive goalkeeper on the planet.
Since Kepa’s debut at Chelsea, things have gone sour so quickly for the Spaniard reminding you of how unforgiving football Clubs and fans can be if you fail to meet demands. From his controversial acts in the league cup final last year to his incompetence in putting his defence together this year. His poor performances this season has raised questions over his long-term future at the bridge and in this article, we would be looking at possible options Chelsea could take in handling the situation and tackling the calls for Kepa to be sold.
Sarri was a major catalyst in the signing of Kepa, the Italian needed a ”ball playing” goalkeeper to help enforce his possession-based style of play (Sarri-ball) and Kepa looked ideal for the position. After the heavy payment, Chelsea made for him, He signed a seven-year contract at the bridge as both parties considered Kepa to be a long-term goalkeeper for the Club. In Kepa’s debut season, he performed well enough against the likes of Fulham, Spurs, Watford and Frankfurt which showed the glimpse of what he could produce in Chelsea colours. But the Spaniard was in the headlines for the wrong reasons as he got into a misunderstanding with Sarri during Chelsea’s league cup final loss to Man City which saw him fined a week’s wages and he was dropped to the bench for the following week’s Premier League match. He found his way back to the starting spot and won the Europa League later with Chelsea.
Kepa’s second season at the Club under the tutelage of Frank Lampard was nothing short of woeful. Despite Chelsea securing top four and an FA Cup final berth, Kepa has been the target of criticism after sub-par performances this Campaign. Several pundits and fans of the Club have called for the goalkeeper to be sold with Oblak, Onana and Pope being linked as possible replacements. All through the season, Chelsea’s defence frailties were well exposed, and Kepa was often the scapegoat. Chelsea finished the season conceding most goals in the top half 54, with Kepa present in goal in 47 of those goals. After the first five matches of the season, Chelsea and Kepa have conceded 11 goals. And after 33 appearances, the Spaniard conceded 47 goals while also having the lowest save percentage in the Premier League in the process. For some parts this season, Lampard opted to play his 38-year-old deputy Willy Caballero at the expense of Kepa, with the Spaniard having a torrid time and was obviously shy on confidence.
Under Lampard, Chelsea is currently staging a rebuild which is going to see them clear out a large part of the team to create space for new ones. Reports suggest that Lampard has lost patience with Kepa is beginning to arise and there are rumours that the Spaniard will be offloaded back to His homeland, with Valencia touted as a potential destination.
Selling Kepa is going to be very difficult for Chelsea regardless of whoever wants him and acquiring a replacement is also going to be difficult. If the Club decides to sell Kepa this summer, it would be because they do not consider him a top goalkeeper and would only replace him with a young proven goalkeeper and there are only a few Keepers with such quality at the Moment.
Chelsea paid €80 million for Kepa’s services and would only be selling him for around that figure at least. With Kepa’s current form and the impact of Corona Virus on the transfer market, no Club would be willing to spend heavily on Kepa. Loaning Kepa out is another possible option, as the Spaniard might be loaned out to go get his confidence boosted elsewhere, but in the process, Chelsea would have to get an ideal keeper to replace him and in the process, Kepa might lose his spot permanently and would be eventually sold for a massive reduction.
With Chelsea pursuing other targets in the transfer market, it seems almost impossible that the Club would spend above the €100 million mark given that Atletico refuses to sell Oblak for less. That might see Chelsea go in pursuit of the likes of Pope and Onana, but the agenda does not seem to fit Chelsea at this stage.
It remains to be seen how things would play out during the transfer window and if Lampard could give Kepa another season to prove himself. If Kepa fails to prove himself quickly then Chelsea would be in for a loss whether they keep or sell Him. Whatever happens, it is not going to be a quick decision and Chelsea would be very careful in the final decision of theirs.