Why Chelsea should send Kepa Arrizabalaga on loan in January
Due to clubs being affected financially by the coronavirus pandemic, the move for Kepa would have to be a loan deal, and it would mean a reduction on his current wages of £150,000-a-week. (h/t Evening Standard)
Born in 1994, Kepa Arrizabalaga started his youth career in Athletic Bilbao in 2004 as a 10-year-old. He joined Basque club Basconia in 2011 before playing for Bilbao Athletic, which is the B-team of Athletic Bilbao, for four years until 2016. However, the Spanish goalkeeper spent the 2015-16 season on loan at Ponferradina and Real Valladolid respectively.
The impressive performances in the Segunda Division earned Kepa a regular starting spot at La Liga club Athletic Bilbao. Thibaut Courtois left Chelsea to join Real Madrid, and this saw the Blues make a desperate last-ditch £71m bid to bring the Spaniard to Stamford Bridge in the summer of 2018, making him the most expensive goalkeeper in history.
Kepa is not a starter at Chelsea anymore and a loan move will suit him
In his first two seasons, the Spaniard kept 22 clean sheets in the Premier League in 72 appearances and was scored past 92 times. While these average statistics don’t stick out like a sore thumb, his errors on high-profile occasions drew intense scrutiny.
Kepa had the worst save-per-90 minutes ratio than any other goalkeeper in the Premier League last season with just 1.67. The Spaniard was a shadow of his former self in the 2019/20 season where several infamous errors blighted his campaign.
Kepa’s latest error against Liverpool and a subsequent howler in the 3-3 draw to Southampton this season seemed to be the final straw for many, including manager Frank Lampard. The English manager spent £22m on Stade Rennais goalkeeper Edouard Mendy to make Kepa a very expensive benchwarmer at the club.
Mendy has started Chelsea’s last 8 games in all competitions, which includes all of their UEFA Champions League matches. The French goalkeeper has kept 3 clean sheets in 4 Champions League matches and also leads the race for the Premier League golden glove this season with 4 clean sheets in just 5 appearances.
Apart from a penalty shootout loss to Tottenham Hotspur in the EFL Cup, Chelsea are yet to lose with Mendy in goal. With Mendy becoming a key figure at Chelsea this season, Kepa would understand that he is no longer the first choice. For a manager to go out and spend big on another goalkeeper is a clear indication of his lack of faith in the club’s current shot-stopper.
Spain manager Luis Enrique has challenged Kepa to show his true mettle after Mendy’s signing. This would be an indication for Kepa that his spot in the UEFA European Championship next summer is under major doubt.
To regain his position as Spain’s No.1, which he duly lost during the UEFA Nations League group matches this season, Kepa needs game time. This does not look like a possibility at Stamford Bridge. For Lampard, a loan move for the Spaniard means saving £150,000 every week on the wage bill. The move should be a no-brainer for both parties.