With a transfer window that has brought top talent to the club, Chelsea are now looking to deal with their goalkeeper situation. At the end of the season, it seemed fans and even manager Frank Lampard had given up with Spanish keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga. However, the latest news seems to reveal that he will stay and fight for his place in the team and squad even if a new keeper comes in.
Petr Cech, former Chelsea legend on the pitch now turned technical and performance advisor, came out with a statement in the recent days which confirmed that Kepa will stay despite all the rumours.
“He had a bad season, you can’t deny that. But the club invested in him and gave him a long-term contract because it believes that he has the quality to be successful. Nobody is giving up on him. We all hope in his great future.”
The 25-year-old still has four years left on his contract and since he still is the most expensive goalkeeper in history at £72m, Chelsea would want to recoup a fair amount of that transfer fee if they decide to sell him. Clearly, that has put many clubs off from signing the out of sorts keeper.
Rumours of him leaving were either on loan or as part of a exchange plus transfer fee, however nothing has materialised as yet and with the latest news reading he’ll stay, then its clear we can disregard those rumours.
Considering his first season at the club, Chelsea fans had a much different perspective on Kepa. He had 14 clean sheets, which made him the third highest in the league. Whilst also conceding 39 goals, it was done so with a back four of Marcos Alonso/Emerson, Antonio Rudiger, David Luiz and Cesar Azpilicueta; a back four that is by no means setting the world alight.
It also saw Kepa take control of the Spanish National team’s number one keeper spot, displacing David De Gea. He made seven appearances in 2019 but his role in the team may change considering his recent form.
This season has been a stark contrast for the Spanish international, as he’s looked a shadow of the keeper he was the season before. His confidence looks shot and the stats make for a very disappointing read.
Some indicting stats reported that:
.For 14/47 goals conceded, he didn’t move for them (30%)
.He has conceded 8% of Chelsea’s Premier League goals since 1992 in 2 years.
.He has the worst save percentage in Premier League history (to play 10+ games), with 54.5%.
Even watching him play, you could see him struggle to control his own box, as highlighted in the Liverpool game away at Anfield where a free kick came in and all the Chelsea defenders screamed at Kepa to come and collect. He looked frozen on his line as Virgil Van Dijk put it narrowly over.
A prime example of how his confidence has eroded away as the season has gone on. Having the worst save percentage is a telling sign and having the world record fee hanging over his head only intensifies the scrutiny even more.
To name a few, keepers linked to the club have included Andre Onana, Nick Pope, Jan Oblak, Gianluigi Donnarumma and Edouard Mendy most recently.
A real concern this season was the defending from set pieces for Chelsea, conceding 12 goals. With Kepa’s cross collecting being poor, it seems the next keeper coming in would have to be extremely adept at doing so like keepers of the past (Cech and Thibaut Courtois for example)
The latest name to be seriously linked is Mendy, who has plied his trade at Rennes, in Ligue 1. At 6’6, he fits the build of a traditional keeper and is a stark contrast to the 6’1 Kepa. His stats showed he had:
.The Third Best Save Percentage in Ligue 1 (78.4% compared to Kepa’s 54.5%)
.0.8 goals Conceded per 90 Last Season Which Was the Second-Lowest in the Division.
.Mendy’s Post-Shot xG of +1.7 is Far Superior to Kepa’s Total of -9.6 (Worst In PL)
Not to mention the fact that he would be the cheapest keeper on the list of rumoured targets too, with Chelsea submitting a fee of just under £20m. It makes for a cheaper option, who could be seen as someone who will come in and instantly challenge Kepa for the number one spot.
He would be a clear upgrade in some areas, such as having that aerial presence in the box. This could go hand in hand with helping Chelsea combat their set piece defensive issues. Having someone who can collect crosses at will instantly takes the pressure off the back four and would reduce the amount conceded or the likelihood of conceding from set pieces.
It is an interesting conundrum for the Blues, who surely have to sign a keeper for the upcoming season. Mendy presents a much different style and build to Kepa and the confidence from set pieces to come and collect are surely something that the higher ups at Chelsea have identified as a key factor. For the price, it seems like a good deal however, I’m still unsure whether this is the long term fix.