Kepa to move on?
Less than 24 hours after Chelsea’s FA cup final defeat to Leicester City at Wembley, the transfer rumour mill is already in full flow. Kepa Arrizabalaga played all of Chelsea’s FA games this season, and this run continued as he started in goal against the Foxes. It was another one to forget for Chelsea, however, who have now lost in a Wembley final on four of the last five occasions.
It is been a difficult season for Kepa, who has made just six Premier League appearances across both Frank Lampard and Thomas Tuchel’s reigns. Although he has appeared in a cup final for the second successive season, it is far from the career that many envisioned for the world’s most expensive goalkeeper, who
With summer signing Edouard Mendy (signed for £21.5 million from French side Rennes) impressing in his stead, and persistent rumours linking Gianluigi Donnarumma with a move to West London, it seems that Kepa’s Chelsea career could be coming to an end.
Chelsea’s French goalkeeper Edouard Mendy plays during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Chelsea at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on October 24, 2020. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / 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 OLI SCARFF/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
According to Italian site LazioNews, Lazio could be lining up a shock loan deal for the 26-year-old goalkeeper this summer as they seek to improve on a disappointing campaign. Veteran goalkeeper Pepe Reina has played the majority of the season in goal for the Roman club, but the 38-year-old’s loan from AC Milan expires in the summer and Lazio will surely be in the market for a replacement.
It may be difficult to persuade Kepa to swap London for Rome given Lazio’s lack of either Champions or Europa League football this season, but a fresh start out of the immediate spotlight could be welcomed by the Spanish shot-stopper. However, Lazio may face stiff competition for the Chelsea number 2’s signature, with former club Atletic Bilbao rumoured to be interested in taking their former player back to Spain on a permanent basis.
BILBAO, SPAIN – DECEMBER 02: Kepa Arrizabalaga of Athletic Club reacts during the La Liga match between Athletic Club and Real Madrid at Estadio de San Mames on December 2, 2017 in Bilbao, Spain. (Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images)
Two games to save their season:
Despite their significant progress under Thomas Tuchel this season, Chelsea could yet finish trophyless and out of the Champions League places for next season, an unthinkable situation to many in West London. Needing to win their last two games to ensure a place in the qualification spots, they host FA Cup winners Leicester City on Tuesday night in a game that has taken on renewed significance.
MADRID, SPAIN – APRIL 27: Timo Werner of Chelsea reacts during the UEFA Champions League Semi Final First Leg match between Real Madrid and Chelsea at Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano on April 27, 2021 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Diego Souto/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)
The Blues then end their season with a tricky away fixture to Aston Villa, before heading to Porto to contest the Champions League final against Manchester City. Were they to lose out on European qualification in the Premier League, the Champions League final would represent their last chance to qualify for Europe’s most prestigious competition.
Leaving it to chance in another one-off game would have Chelsea fans on edge, however, given their recent history in cup finals, although their last European final win (4-1 against Arsenal in 2018/19) would offer a glimmer of hope. Either way, it is shaping up to be a huge last three games for Tuchel’s side.