Kepa Arrizabalaga hasn’t had the best of times at Chelsea so far in his tenure. In fact, a lot of fans would quite happily see him out of the club right now. Yet, it might not be all doom and gloom for the world’s most expensive goalkeeper right now. Please, before you start screaming “what is this idiot on about”, let me explain.
Under Maurizio Sarri, Arrizabalaga performed respectably. He made the odd mistake, but there were many causes for optimism under the Italian boss. So we know that the right manager can get somewhere with the Spaniard. Under the new boss Thomas Tuchel, we’ve seen a lot of players start to perform the way they used to. Mateo Kovacic and Marcos Alonso to say the least, but even some of the new arrivals like Timo Werner and Kai Havertz look far better under the German. Why can’t Arrizabalaga find himself turning his situation in west London around?
Arrizabalaga was playing well between the sticks for a while, and then everything around his life fell apart. Rumors surfaced around a reported break-up with his girlfriend, and that can shake anyone. However, Tuchel represents a new start for Kepa. It’s a fresh start. While he won’t ever grab headlines, he’s got more than enough to prove he’s a very talented goalkeeper and better than his performances over the last season. It’s a chance at redemption, something that a lot of players do not get at this great club. Perhaps, even if his career at Chelsea is coming to a conclusion, it’s his chance to put himself in the shop window so to speak. During the final months, he could show off his talents to find himself a comfortable home in a nice new club.
It is also in Thomas Tuchel’s best interests to work with Arrizabalaga to attempt to salvage this transfer. Kepa can be a respectable goalkeeper. We’ve seen flashes of that but his issue is consistency. He often has major lapses in concentration, or a visual issue tracking the ball or something. Former Blues boss Glenn Hoddle mentioned on more than one occasion that it might be an issue with Arrizabalaga’s eyes. I do not wish to speculate, because there is nothing confirmed. However, Tuchel may wish to confirm it. In Arrizabalaga’s first year in West London, he wasn’t awful. People forget that he was a serviceable goalkeeper.
A recent performance away at Barnsley in the FA Cup may not be much to scream and shout about, but it was a clean sheet for Arrizabalaga and he did make one absolutely fantastic reflex save in the first half to keep it scoreless. Albeit, a save you expect the world’s most expensive goalkeeper to stop, it wasn’t a formality. It was an unusual performance from Kepa, and I don’t mean this with any disrespect. He looked nervy, and then after that first save, he looked calm and composed. Obviously, there’s some issues with his game still. That will need to change, but it’s certainly a performance he could start from in order to turn his career at the Bridge around. I’m not saying he’s going to displace Edouard Mendy, but he can certainly provide the blues with another option behind the Senegalese international in the event of a Coronavirus outbreak or an injury.
If you want to call me insane for thinking Arrizabalaga could turn it around, feel free. I am not ever going to say that I expect Kepa to suddenly turn morph into some combination of Petr Cech and Thibaut Courtois in one. However, I do believe it to be a genuinely good chance for Arrizabalaga to move him Chelsea career. We’ve seen players do it before. Mind you, never from the situation Arrizabalaga finds himself in, but it would be a great story, and you have to hope he finds a way to rescue it. It would be so much better for both the Spanish shot stopper and the west London giants.