Kepa Arrizabalaga, who signed with Chelsea in August 2018, was welcomed with great optimism, a move intended to soften the blow dealt to the club by Thibaut Courtois’ departure to Real Madrid.
Athletic Bilbao cashed in on the Spaniard under Real’s interest for just £ 18 million nearly two years ago, but six months later their star took off for a whopping £ 72 million, a record amount for a goalkeeper that holds up to this day.
But more than two years after arriving at Stamford Bridge, the 25-year-old stares through the barrel, with his time in the Premier League determined by high-profile blunders and costly mistakes at key moments.
Kepa Arrizabalaga’s arrival at Chelsea in August 2018 was greeted with great optimism
His arrival was intended to soften the blow after the departure of Thibaut Courtois
But his latest clanger against Liverpool gave Sadio Mane a goal and increased control over him
Liverpool forward Sadio Mane was the last beneficiary of Kepa’s ineptitude, with the Senegalese easily intercepting his pass-out from the rear before doubling down on the Reds’ advantage in their 2-0 win over the 10-man Blues on Sunday.
But it may have been the moments after Mane’s second goal – meaning Kepa had conceded 11 of the last 16 shots he’d gotten – that told perhaps a more poignant story.
When asked what could be done to improve Kepa’s form, Lampard replied, ‘To try to give him confidence, because a goalkeeper relies on trust. These things happen.
How do you gauge trust? I do not know. It’s just a plain mistake today. ‘
But it seemed clear that Kepa’s confidence would be at an all-time low on any scale, gauge or device in use now, making a second mistake in as many matches after failing to hold back Leandro Trossard’s long-term efforts at Brighton.
Frank Lampard insists that he is trying to give his goalkeeper some kind of confidence under fire
But the Spaniard appears to have no confidence at all after the Liverpool match
After giving in to Mane, a goalkeeper who had previously disobeyed former boss Maurizio Sarri and refused to be substituted for the penalty shootout in the 2019 Carabao Cup final, now timidly drank from his water bottle while watching Liverpool meekly while he wished the ground would swallow. him up.
“As players you are going through tough times and Kepa is going through one right now,” Jamie Carragher told Sky Sports after the game.
‘You actually feel a little sorry for him now. He’s just having one of those nightmare moments. ‘
Of course, that shocking moment could have come in advance to spare him that embarrassment, but the incident that landed the red card for Andreas Christensen would have only highlighted a growing lack of judgment.
It looked like Mane would have gotten to Jordan Henderson’s elevated pass first, and had the center back not dragged him down there is a chance that Kepa would have fouled him and fired himself.
Kepa has already made two mistakes this season after hiring tall ranger Leandro Trossard
He’s far from the bullish player who refused to come over in the 2019 League Cup final
But while Sunday’s ultimate mistake could prove to be the last nail in the coffin for Kepa as a regular on Chelsea’s squad, the problem has been going on for a while.
Frank Lampard’s additions of Ben Chilwell and veteran Thiago Silva were made with the clear intention of fixing a leaky defense that had scored 79 goals in all competitions in 2019/20.
The number of Premier League goals awarded was 54 in the last campaign, more than 10 other top teams and Brighton – who finished in 15th place – while the West London side set their worst defensive record in more than 20 years.
But while Chelsea seems vulnerable to set plays and the counterattack that would expose most top keepers, Kepa’s numbers make for an equally grim reading.
The problem with Kepa has been since last season when he scored some 47 goals
Last season, Kepa saved just 54.5 percent of shots on goal, the lowest figure for any regular Premier League goalkeeper over a full season since the records were collected in 2003-04.
Of the 47 goals he missed last season, 14 of them were motionless, representing 30 percent of the goals he conceded.
A stat from Opta in July also revealed that Kepa got 11 Premier League goals more than their goals scored on the goal data model would expect from the ‘average’ goalkeeper, the worst score of any shot stopper in the division.
There were no signs of such a dramatic implosion in his first season at Stamford Bridge, with his shots-on-target save rate of 67.5 percent, on par with the 68.2 percent he spent two seasons in LaLiga at Athletic Bilbao. registered.
But 2019/20 saw a personal collapse of unimaginable proportions as he made numerous mistakes, including in Champions League matches against Ajax and Valencia and at home against Newcastle and Arsenal.
He let in goals at key moments, such as Newcastle winner Isaac Hayden in injury time
And it was after that tense 2-2 draw for the 10-man Gunners that Lampard decided to pull the trigger and replace Kepa in the lineup with No 2 Willy Caballero in early February. Not that his Argentinian replacement was much better in the five league starts he played.
In those games, Caballero’s shots-on-target save rate was only marginally better than Kepa’s at 56.3 percent.
Undoubtedly, it is a small sample size to judge the 38-year-old statistics from The Guardian show it is significantly below his career average: 71 percent over six seasons with Elche, 74 percent over four seasons at Malaga and 72.6 percent over three seasons at Manchester City.
Chelsea had hoped to find a buyer for their subordinate goalkeeper this summer but found it impossible to advance and Lampard had to try and get him back on the squad.
And after further errors, Lampard decided to replace him with veteran Willy Caballero
But after the Liverpool result, statistician Duncan Alexander said Kepa has now done so let in 8.4 percent of the goals Chelsea ever scored in the Premier League, making his case for a chance to fight for a place in the first team increasingly difficult to endorse.
While they’ve had limited success taking a goalkeeper away, it seems Chelsea are lucky enough to land one after finally agreeing on a five-year deal worth £ 26 million for Rennes’ after weeks of negotiation. Edouard Mendy.
The 28-year-old Senegal international becomes the seventh signing in an extraordinary summer of spending for Chelsea – which is expected to reach £ 250m – in a deal believed to cost £ 22m plus add-ons.
But while the numbers continue to float about the Blues’ lavish summer spending this year, it seems that this will be somewhat offset by the persistent reminder that their £ 72 million purchase two years ago not only underperformed spectacularly, but now also underperformed. much-maligned figure at the club.
Although they failed to bring in Kepa, they are ready to bring in a goalkeeper in Edouard Mendy
After building success during the club’s most fertile period with the club from the likes of Petr Cech, Kepa represents not only a major departure from Chelsea’s current technical director, but also as a player who will never, ever be eliminated for the Premier League.
SportsmaiIChris Sutton believes that by committing to a new clanger, he further established himself as Chelsea’s worst value signing, ahead of Andriy Shevchenko with £ 30m and Fernando Torres with £ 50m.
But based on the discernible lack of progression, despite having years to come as a goalkeeper, there is a genuine concern that he could become one of the worst importers ever.
The debate would spawn countless names in various positions, but at the moment it is difficult to predict how and in what form Kepa could restore the image of a confident goalkeeper who would have years of success with club and country.
And if that comes out as and when his time in England comes to an end, his name will not be far from such disapproving discussions.
Chelsea have built up success with Petr Cech, but Kepa cannot offer his consistency