Sarri eyes a reunion with this out-of-favour Chelsea star – What should Tuchel do?


Lazio want Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga

As per reports (h/t The Daily Star), Lazio want to sign out-of-favour Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga, in the summer transfer window. The Serie A side will see former Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri, take charge of the team for next season. And the Italian wants Kepa to be his No.1 ahead of Thomas Strakosha.

Sarri was the manager who signed Kepa during his spell at Stamford Bridge as Chelsea sought to replace the outgoing Thibaut Courtois. But things have not worked out well for Kepa since then. And here, we try and see why Thomas Tuchel should make use of Lazio’s interest and offload Kepa.

He is no longer needed as the first choice

Before we make any other points, it becomes important to establish that Kepa Arrizabalaga is no longer the No.1 goalkeeper at Chelsea. The Spaniard started just six league games in the Premier League this season under both Frank Lampard and Thomas Tuchel combined. This is not good considering his transfer fee.

Kepa Arrizabalaga
Kepa Arrizabalaga joined the Blues from Athletic Bilbao in the previous campaign. (Image Credit: Getty)

Now 26 years old, Chelsea paid £71.6million for him back in 2018. That is a world-record fee for a goalkeeper. And for that amount, you would expect the player to be a starter. But all of that changed. The Blues signed Edouard Mendy from Stade Rennais last summer for a £22million fee.

And as it has turned out, the Frenchman has replaced Kepa as Chelsea’s No.1. He played in 44 games for the Blues this season and earned praise from Frank Lampard, the manager who signed him, for his attributes and the sense of calm that he brings to the team. And Mendy has earned Tuchel’s trust too.

The German manager has kept Mendy as Chelsea’s first-choice goalkeeper. Hence, it is very hard for Kepa from here to win his spot back, especially considering the fact that Mendy also starred in a Chelsea defence that finished in the top 4, won the UEFA Champions League – all while he kept the second-highest clean sheets in the Premier League.

A wise move financially

So now that we have established that Kepa is no longer the first choice, that makes him an expensive substitute to have at the club. Having such an expensive player benched is a concept so troublesome for a club that former Premier League player, Peter Crouch, stated in January that it could be a reason why Frank Lampard was sacked in the first place.

This is where Chelsea have a chance to make up for some of the transfer fee they dished out three years back. Kepa signed a 7-year deal back in 2018. That means he still has 4 years left on his contract, putting the Blues in a strong position to negotiate any terms for the transfer.

Moreover, as of last month, Kepa is Chelsea’s joint 4th-highest earner alongside N’Golo Kante. This is why the club are said to be eager to get his £150,000-a-week wages off the books.

Edouard Mendy is now number 1 at Chelsea as Kepa Arrizabalaga is linked with a transfer to Lazio.
Edouard Mendy is now number 1 at Chelsea as Kepa Arrizabalaga is linked with a transfer to Lazio. (GETTY Images)

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