In recent months, the goalkeeper position at Chelsea Football Club has been under intense scrutiny from both fans and the media. Despite a decent first season, Kepa Arrizabalaga has been disappointing in his second year at the club prompting much speculation that Frank Lampard is looking for a replacement. Whilst the club could go out and break the bank, there is also the potential opportunity to bring players up from the Youth Academy.
Step up Karlo Ziger.
Ziger has been at the club since he was just 12 years old, with the club infamously offering his family a massive £120,000 signing on fee to persuade his family to move to London, it’s believed that this was later used as evidence against Chelsea to dish out their Transfer Ban in 2018.
At 6ft1, Ziger possesses a similar frame to Kepa Arrizabalaga, but at the age of 19 he will still be growing into his physique. Like Kepa, he has proven himself to be an extremely useful asset in Penalty Shootout’s. Against Dinamo Zagreb, in the 2018/19 Uefa Youth League Quarter Finals, it was Ziger who sent his side through to the Semi Finals with a brilliant penalty safe against his own countryman prompting scenes of jubilation.
He was also the hero in the semi final, saving a penalty against Barcelona to take the Blues into the final.
Ziger looks to have lightning reflexes and despite not being overly tall for a keeper at just over 6ft, he has a commanding physical frame which is obviously useful as a fear factor for any oncoming attackers. He’s an extremely good shot stopper and doesn’t appear to have the slightly weaker wrists we’ve seen with some keepers in the past. In the modern day game, distribution as a keeper is becoming more and more important. Ziger looks calm and composed with the ball at his feet but also possesses a power with the ball.
At this point, I believe Ziger is showing more potential than someone like Jamie Cumming. I believe his physical presence will go hand in hand with the style of player we require from goalkeepers in the Premier League. Ziger is yet to have any real experience playing in for a men’s side apart from a short loan at Sutton United. So next season we can expect him to either cement himself in the development squad or perhaps head out to League One to ensure he can play the maximum number of games.
Something brilliant about Goalkeepers is they do tend to develop a lot later than other positions, so Karlo has all the time in the world to establish himself as a top keeper.
I still firmly believe that Kepa can and will turn his fortunes around. But, if he doesn’t, it is only a matter of time before one of Ziger or Cumming get a chance in pre-season or a cup game and begin to give the Spaniard a run for his money.
What do you think of Karlo Ziger? Is he a suitable replacement for Kepa in the coming years? Let us know in the comments below!
Chelsea Youth Profiles: