‘Every day in training’: Thomas Tuchel says what he constantly sees from 26-year-old Chelsea player
Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel has explained he constantly sees in training the quality of goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga.
Finally, Kepa appears to be back playing with a smile on his face again.
There has been a gigantic cloud of pressure surrounding him since his £71million transfer to Stamford Bridge three years ago. His first season was mediocre, but his second campaign saw his reputation take a huge battering.
Tuchel’s appointment in January 2020 has been a turning point for him, though, in his Blues career and he’s started to slowly get back on track.
The 26-year-old is the second-choice goalkeeper at the beginning of his fourth season as a Chelsea player, but that’s because shot-stopper Edouard Mendy has been inspired since his arrival in London.
Kepa is looking far more reliable nowadays when called upon, including in the weekend’s 3-0 Premier League win over Tottenham.
It’s extremely difficult for any manager to keep a back-up goalkeeper happy, especially a £70million-plus one, but Tuchel is doing a fine job rebuilding his confidence.
Bringing Kepa off the bench to be the hero in the penalty shootout of the UEFA Super Cup final win was great man-management.
“His mindset is calm and he is positive. It was not necessary for him to prove to me he is a good goalkeeper. I see it every day in training,” Tuchel said.
“Maybe he is at the point where he does not try too hard to convince everybody he is worth the money the club paid. Who cares about the money? Okay, the money was paid, so what now? We have two strong goalkeepers and we need both of them. If you need any proof, look at the weekend, when he was the key factor to have a clean sheet.
“If the money is too high or too low, these measurements do not exist for us. I have a feeling the pressure is off his shoulders.”
Kepa has made 10 appearances since Tuchel took over, which is a decent tally for a goalkeeping understudy.
It won’t be a surprise if he’s involved Wednesday night in the Carabao Cup against Aston Villa, so he remains an important part of the squad at Stamford Bridge.
It’s a long road back for him to get back a reputation as a top goalkeeper, but not impossible.
If he can continue cutting out individual errors and lapses in concentration, he’s got a lot of qualities still to be a solid goalkeeper in the Premier League.
Mendy is just in a league of his own right now, though.
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