Gianfranco Zola said Kepa Arrizabalaga’s decline in performance has gone beyond what he expected as he felt “sorry” for the goalkeeper’s situation at Chelsea.
The 26-year-old will spend more time on the sidelines now that Frank Lampard has confirmed that Edouard Mendy is Chelsea’s No.1.
It was far from surprising though, since Lampard clearly lost his faith in Arrizabalaga to the point that he took the risk to start Mendy against Sevilla yesterday despite his thigh injury.
The gamble paid off as Chelsea bagged their third clean-sheet of the season, with Mendy starting in goal in two of them.
However, Chelsea legend Zola said he was rather stunned by Arrizabalaga’s downfall in the past year.
“I’m very surprised,” he told talkSPORT Breakfast on Wednesday.
“I know he is very young and he came to Chelsea for big money and that is a big burden to carry on your shoulders, and in a way, this is probably affecting him.
“I could understand a little bit of difficulty, but this is going beyond what was expected and it surprised me.
“And I am sorry for the boy because he is a good boy and a good goalkeeper.
“He has to pick himself up and do what he can do and show people he is different, because I believe he has got potential.”
With almost five years left on his contract at Chelsea (until 2025), Arrizabalaga still has plenty of time to turn the situation around.
But considering the situation, we might see him leave in the near future whether it is on loan or permanently, since he would need to play regularly to have any chance of a career revival.