Kepa Arrizabalaga’s future at Chelsea: Newcastle United transfer decision, Thomas Tuchel stance
Kepa has been linked with a big money exit from Chelsea in the summer transfer window.
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The hope was that the 27-year-old’s penalty saving prowess would help his side in an upcoming shootout, but instead he failed to save single spot-kick before blazing his own effort over the bar to hand the Reds a dramatic 11-10 victory.
Kepa’s time at Stamford Bridge has been frequently difficult ever since he sealed a £72 million transfer from Athletic Bilbao in 2018, and he now finds himself firmly beneath Edouard Mendy in the pecking order in West London.
As such, Chelsea are understood to be open to letting him leave the club at the end of the season, with the newly-moneyed Toon Army among those said to be in the running.
Will Kepa leave Chelsea this summer?
The early signs would suggest that there is a distinct possibility.
Kepa has been limited to just 14 appearances in all competitions this season, four of which have come in the Premier League, and its worth emphasising that his tally would likely be considerably lower were it not for Mendy’s prolonged run at the African Cup of Nations with Senegal earlier in the year.
As such, the Spaniard is very an understudy these days, and for a player who came in with the acclaim and financial outlay that he did, that role doesn’t appear to be one that naturally suits him or those paying his wages.
The prospect of a loan exit was touted in January to no avail, and now the Daily Star claim that the Blues would even be willing to cash in on the 27-year-old entirely by agreeing to a permanent departure.
In that instance, it is suggested that Chelsea would look to recoup about £50 million of the money they spent on Kepa back in 2018.
A loan with an obligation to buy could also be deemed acceptable, provided the right circumstances were right.
Who is interested in Kepa?
The standout suitors for the Spaniard at this stage appear to be Newcastle United.
The Star’s update suggests that the Magpies view the stopper as a potential upgrade on the likes of Martin Dubravka and Karl Darlow, and it is also understood that they would be open to the prospect of meeting Chelsea’s valuation of the player.
The Toon Army aren’t the only club being linked with Kepa, however.
A number of clubs in La Liga, including Atletico Madrid, are also said to be sniffing around.
What has Thomas Tuchel said about Kepa?
Despite consistently preferring Mendy as his number one, Tuchel has always been very praising of Kepa.
Speaking towards the back end of last year, the German said: “He [Kepa] is always pushing and is really an example of sportsmanship through and through. I have nothing but praise for him.
“Every day he is in unbelievable spirit and does not take these decisions [to leave him out] personally and he does what it takes to be on his personal highest level.
“I am absolutely grateful to be his coach and he did very, very well. I am always very sure he will do well because of the way he is and the way he behaves and trains.
“Still, we of course have competition, and the decision is that unless something crazy happens that Edu [Mendy] starts – nothing has changed at the moment for him.”
More recently, Tuchel also refused to put any of the blame for Sunday’s penalty shootout horror show on the player either, instead accepting his own decisive role in the outcome.
He said: “If you want to blame someone, blame me. I take the decisions and I don’t take them to be the hero.
“We have reasons. I try to explain the reasons. It was not the first time and today it took 11 penalties to find a winner.
“There are no regrets. If you want to blame somebody, blame me, it is no problem.”