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.

Barnsley v Chelsea: The Emirates FA Cup Fifth Round
BARNSLEY, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 11: Kepa Arrizabalaga of Chelsea during The Emirates FA Cup Fifth Round match between Barnsley and Chelsea at Oakwell Stadium on February 11, 2021 in Barnsley, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images)

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.

Chelsea v Newcastle United - Premier League
LONDON, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 15: Kepa Arrizabalaga of Chelsea punches the ball clear under pressure from Ciaran Clark and Jamaal Lascelles of Newcastle United during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Newcastle United at Stamford Bridge on February 15, 2021 in London, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images)

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.

FBL-ENG-PR-SOUTHAMPTON-CHELSEA
Chelsea’s German head coach Thomas Tuchel (L) gestures with Chelsea’s Spanish defender Marcos Alonso at the final whistle during the English Premier League football match between Southampton and Chelsea at St Mary’s Stadium in Southampton, southern England on February 20, 2021. (Photo by NEIL HALL / POOL / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or ‘live’ services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. / (Photo by NEIL HALL/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

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.

The Chelsea Chronicle View

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.

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