Chelsea star Kepa keeping ‘cool, calm and collected’ after £71m transfer – Evening Standard


It is a measure of Kepa Arrizabalaga’s performances since joining Chelsea for a world record £71.6million that so little negative has been said about him.

When the Spain international moved from Athletic Bilbao in August, it looked like he would be under more pressure than most new arrivals.

He had a tough enough job replacing Thibaut Courtois, the Belgium international won four major trophies in four years and had just been voted the best keeper at the World Cup.

And, of course, Kepa came with the sizeable burden of being the most expensive keeper in the world.

Both factors meant the 24-year-old was certain to attract a lot of scrutiny for every mistake, just like Blues’ striker Alvaro Morata has experienced following his £58m move from Real Madrid last year. But Kepa hasn’t made any glaring errors. Perhaps some goals let in could have been prevented, yet nothing in the Jordan Pickford mould at Anfield on Sunday.

Photo: Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

Team-mate Ruben Loftus-Cheek is not surprised, as he told Standard Sport: “I don’t notice any thoughts [about Courtois or the fee] going through his head. He is so cool, calm and collected. 

“At the training ground he just looks like he loves to play and is having fun. It is the best way to play football but credit to him — he does have a massive price tag and is doing so well.”

There were suggestions Chelsea had downgraded by swapping Courtois, who forced through a £35m switch to Real, for Kepa. But that isn’t the case as things stand. Courtois has kept just six clean sheets in 14 appearances for Real, whereas Kepa has 11 in 19 games for Chelsea.

Loftus-Cheek also says Kepa has improved Chelsea’s ability to pass from deep, a key part of coach Maurizio Sarri’s game-plan.

He added: “Kepa is not the tallest compared to Thibaut, but he is so good with his feet. It just makes you feel comfortable when he is in possession. 

“It is what we need with the boss wanting us to play out from the back. He has been a really great addition.”

Kepa is bound to be put to the test at Wolves tonight even though the hosts have lost five of their past six games. Sarri is considering making changes, with Emerson, Morata, Willian and Loftus-Cheek in line to start.


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