Cesar Azpilicueta explained his thoughts to Mundo Deportivo about why he thought Kepa Arrizabalaga still had a major role to play at Chelsea.
It has not been an easy ride for the Spanish ‘keeper since he signed from Atletico Bilbao back in 2018.
After an impressive debut season at Stamford Bridge, Kepa’s stock has rapidly decreased to the point he is no longer the first choice for Chelsea.
This fall from grace began under Frank Lampard, who dropped him for Willy Caballero.
Lampard gave Kepa another opportunity to redeem himself but it slipped through his goalie gloves.
In came Edouard Mendy last September. Out went Kepa. Right up until Thomas Tuchel took over.
The German coach surprisingly reinstated the 26-year-old against Newcastle United last week for only his fourth Premier League start in 2020/21.
When asked if Kepa deserved one more lifeline, Azpilicueta gave a typically mature response.
“I’m not the one to give it a chance,” said Chelsea’s skipper.
“That’s up to Tuchel. I am your partner and your friend.
“I have a close relationship because we are also teammates from the National Team and I can guarantee that he works hard.
“He has suffered like anyone who does not play but the career of a footballer has bumps, it is not a bed of roses.
“You have to be humble. And he is young, with the future ahead. I’m sure he will continue to contribute a lot to Chelsea.”
Tuchel’s introduction gave every player a clean slate, with all past troubles, turmoil’s and talents put to one side.
Antonio Rudiger, Marcos Alonso, and Azpilicueta himself have all benefited from this approach.
Kepa will hope he too can reinstate the wrongs of his Chelsea past by staking a serious claim for his no.1 spot.
Mendy was confirmed Tuchel as his main man goalkeeper, but there may still be an opening if the Senegalese international shows signs of weakness.
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I really want Kepa to do well for Chelsea. I’m keen for him to get a run of games under his belt.
To be honest, I’m not totally sold on Mendy.
I think either goalkeeper could be in contention, it just depends who slips up first.