Chelsea prepare for offers from Kepa Arrizabalaga and open up to summer exit | chelsea
Chelsea are preparing for offers for Kepa Arrizabalaga this summer and he is unlikely to stand in the way of the goalkeeper if he receives a suitable offer.
The Spain international has had a mixed time since leaving Athletic Bilbao for £71.6m in 2018 and his recent improvement hasn’t been enough to dislodge Édouard Mendy as Thomas Tuchel’s first-choice. Tuchel plans to bring Mendy into the squad when Chelsea face Palmeiras in the Club World Cup final on Saturday and Arrizabalaga, who impressed in the semi-final win over Al-Hilal on Wednesday, could be looking for a new challenge at the end of the season.
Arrizabalaga’s form has improved since Tuchel replaced Frank Lampard last year and Chelsea believe he could be a summer target for one of Spain’s big clubs. The 27-year-old has done well when given opportunities this season and Chelsea accept he won’t want to continue as a No.2 if he gets the chance to play regularly elsewhere.
Chelsea haven’t faced any offers for Arrizabalaga. He struggled under Lampard and his asking price and high wages meant interest was minimal. However, Chelsea know that having such an expensive goalkeeper regularly on the bench is not ideal and there would be more disappointment for Arrizabalaga if he were left out against Palmeiras.
Arrizabalaga, who honed his game under Tuchel, impressed as Mendy represented Senegal at the Africa Cup of Nations. He helped Chelsea reach the Carabao Cup final at the expense of Tottenham last month, made two superb second-half saves against Al-Hilal and became a penalty shootout expert. He has played a key role at Chelsea winning three shootouts this season and robbing Ryan Hardie of where Tuchel’s side knocked Plymouth out of the FA Cup last weekend.
Although the feeling at Chelsea is that Arrizabalaga should be Spain’s No.1 instead of Unai Simón or David de Gea, Tuchel could still drop him against Palmeiras. Mendy joined the Chelsea team in Abu Dhabi after winning the Afcon and has become one of the best goalkeepers in the world since leaving Rennes in 2020.
Chelsea have never won the Club World Cup and Tuchel might decide he doesn’t want to leave anything to chance. If Arrizabalaga is dropped against the Copa Libertadores champions, his next chance to impress could come in the Carabao Cup final against Liverpool on February 27.
Chelsea are yet to put an end to the uncertainty in their defense with César Azpilicueta, Antonio Rüdiger and Andreas Christensen all out of contract this summer. However, they have resumed talks with Rüdiger over a new deal and hope to reach an agreement for the centre-back, who is a target for Bayern Munich, Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain.