Kepa Arrizabalaga, the most expensive goalkeeper of all time, has the chance to become Chelsea’s first-choice stopper once more under Graham Potter’s tutelage.
What’s the word?
That is according to journalist Simon Phillips, who has spoken of the 27-year-old’s potential revival under the new Blues boss.
Speaking to GIVEMESPORT, Phillips said of the Spaniard’s prospects of becoming Potter’s preferred goalkeeping option: “He’s definitely got a chance, purely because historically, he’s supposed to be a lot better on the ball than Mendy and he is, but neither of them are claiming that spot, neither of them are really playing that well at the moment.”
Kepa’s big chance
This is now Kepa’s fifth season at Chelsea, and with six games already gone in the Premier League, he is yet to make an appearance. It’s quite a fall from grace from being predicted to become “one of the best goalkeepers in Europe” by ex-Blues boss Maurizio Sarri in 2019.
A series of mistakes in his first two years at the club deemed him untrustworthy as a first-choice option, with Edouard Mendy coming in around this time two years ago to demote him in the pecking order.
However, with the caveat that the Spaniard has played fewer games than the Senegal stopper, Kepa averages a save percentage of 70.8% over the last 12 months. That pips Mendy’s 66.4%, which ranks him in a below-average 27th percentile among positionally similar players in Europe’s top five leagues, as per FBref.
Also, the African has been culpable of some costly howlers in recent weeks, most notably for Leeds’ first goal in Chelsea’ 3-0 drubbing at Stamford Bridge a month ago.
If Potter is looking for a goalkeeper who is more proactive in coming off his line, he may just fancy Kepa, with the Spaniard averaging 1.5 defensive actions outside the penalty area per game. Mendy is more conservative, with an average of just 0.59 per match for this metric.
The competition between the two is closer than ever, but it remains to be seen as to whether the £145k-per-week Kepa will get the opportunity to prove himself again as Chelsea’s first-choice keeper.
Potter is no stranger to making a change between the sticks, having shipped out Mathew Ryan in favour of Spain international Robert Sanchez while in charge at Brighton, and it may be a sign of things to come that the 47-year-old selected Kepa over Mendy in last week’s draw against Red Bull Salzburg in the Champions League.