Kepa Arrizbalaga needed a “kick up the bum” to restart his Stamford Bridge career but has the potential to be one of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League, according to former Chelsea defender Frank Sinclair. The Spanish goalkeeper has had an inconsistent start to his time with the Blues, having arrived from Athletic Bilbao for £72million in 2018.
Chelsea forked out a world-record fee for a goalkeeper in order to secure Kepa’s signature but are yet to see a significant return from the 25-year-old.
The goalkeeper made headlines when he refused to be substituted by former manager Maurizio Sarri in the Carabao Cup final last year, before being dropped by Frank Lampard after a series of poor displays earlier this term.
Kepa was eventually recalled to the starting XI but has been linked with a move away from the club this summer and a host of high-profile names have been touted as potential replacements.
But Sinclair, who played 169 times for Chelsea between 1990 and 1998, believes the young goalkeeper should be retained this summer and given another chance to impress Lampard.
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Speaking to GentingBet, Sinclair said: “I don’t know the relationship between Kepa and Lampard behind the scenes but it is clear that there is some level of unsettlement, if such a high-profile and expensive goalkeeper is being left out of the side.
“You need to take into consideration that he is very young and if Chelsea do look to cash in on him and sign another keeper, they won’t get back the money they forked out initially.
“I do think that he is a good enough keeper and you can see that when he came back into the team, he started to show the form that he came to the club with initially.
“So, perhaps he just needed the ‘kick up the bum’ to push on again because he is certainly a talented goalkeeper, who has everything in his game.
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“There is no particular part of his game that I think he struggles with in particular – he’s good with his feet, his positional sense and commanding his area is strong and he’s a great shot stopper.
“It’s just about his relationship with Frank and how he can continue to adapt after coming over from Spain.”
Chelsea have reportedly approached Mino Raiola over a deal for AC Milan stopper Gianluigi Donnarumma while the Blues have also supposedly shown interest in Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Manuel Neuer, Dean Henderson and Juan Musso.
Burnley goalkeeper Nick Pope is another who has been touted for a move to Stamford Bridge, but Sinclair believes the England international would be a difficult signing to secure.
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“Nick Pope is an excellent, young English goalkeeper – he’s a really professional goalkeeper that is only going to get better,” Sinclair said.
“However, I don’t think that Burnley will want to sell him anyway. They won’t want to be known as a club where anyone can just come in and take their international players.”
Instead, Sinclair has urged Chelsea to stick with Kepa and used David De Gea’s struggles following his move to Manchester United as an example of how the club’s patience could pay off.
De Gea was considered too lightweight when he first arrived in the Premier League, but soon established himself as one of the best goalkeepers in the world through several seasons of exceptional displays.
“Personally, I’d like Kepa to be given another season to prove himself and settle in the Premier League,” said the 48-year-old.
“When you look at other foreign keepers, sometimes it takes them up to 18 months to settle in the Premier League before you start to get the best out of them – you only have to look at David De Gea at Man United.
“If Kepa does settle, I don’t think there are going to be many better goalkeepers than him in the Premier League anyway.”
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