After the arrival of Edouard Mendy, Kepa has found himself frozen out of Chelsea’s starting XI. Mendy’s calming presence at the base of Chelsea’s defence coupled with a great positional awareness and aerial presence only means that Kepa will continue being a fringe player at the club. Still only twenty-six, Kepa can become a quality player if he’s offered a chance for redemption – but could this be offered at Chelsea ?
Despite being the costliest player in world football, Kepa is yet to prove his worth. An error-sprewn 2019/20 season has only managed to prove that Kepa was indeed a panic buy from Chelsea. While he has had a brilliant spell in Spain, it has been difficult for him to match his attributes and abilities in the English game. The Premier League is the fastest and the most physical league in the world which calls for a dominant aerial presence in both ends of the football field. Kepa’s shot-stopping ability, along with a decent ball-playing ability which is an important attribute for playing out of the back, has so far alleviated his lack of dominance while claiming crosses, lapses in concentration and the fact that he cannot take charge of the box.
The ‘Chopping and Changing’ system used by Frank Lampard to experiment with defensive combinations also did not help Kepa who has to deal with a different combination every game. The latter stages of the season saw the 39 Year-Old Willy Caballero take charge between the sticks. It was clearly evident that Lampard’s faith in the keeper was slowly diminishing.Embed from Getty Images
The start of the current campaign showed promise as Chelsea made a lot of defensive reinforcements. However, the defensive additions did not help Kepa’s case. Kepa’s mistakes against Liverpool and his lack of communication with Kurt Zouma leading to Southampton’s equalizer in October 2020 all but confirmed that he won’t be a starter for the club anymore. While Edouard Mendy played a dominant role in Chelsea’s sixteen game unbeaten run, Kepa found himself a sporadic player – something that no one would have predicted when he signed from Bilbao.
Perhaps, Kepa really needs a chance at a team or in a league which is less physical in nature. His days in Bilbao make it evident that there is still a lot of ability in him. A chance of redemption at his home country might just to wonders to his confidence. Honestly, a chance for a redemption at Chelsea would be perfect, considering the amount paid for him but, football has always been a game of results. Lampard, on whom the pressure of getting results is already mounting by the day would not take such a risk.Embed from Getty Images
A chance at another club may help Kepa re-establish himself.
As far as the transfer window is concerned, Chelsea need to offload a huge list of players. It would not be surprising if we see Kepa striking a cheeky loan deal back in Spain at the latter stages of the window. What is really needs is some time away from the pressure of playing for a big club. A season without constant criticisms and media pressure, we might just see Kepa Arrizabalaga back to his best.