Chelsea are ready to offer Kepa Arrizabalaga to Valencia on loan. THT looks at the keeper’s situation and how a move away could benefit all parties concerned.
Liverpool stunned the footballing world by making an audacious move for Allison Becker from Roma, costing a whopping £65 million in transfer fees. The Italian club were right to get full value for their prized asset, as the Brazilian went on to achieve Champions League and Premier League success in his time so far.
Only weeks later, Chelsea were on hand to break the world record transfer fee for a goalkeeper, held by Liverpool only for days. The Blues paid Kepa Arrizabalaga’s stupendous £72 million release clause to Athletic Bilbao and signed a keeper, which people hardly knew about in terms of his real capabilities.
After starting life at Stamford Bridge rather brightly, Kepa’s huge transfer fee began making sense. That season under Maurizio Sarri, Kepa was a reliable option between the posts. The Chelsea side won the Europa League and narrowly missed out on the Carabao Cup, losing to Manchester City.
The next season marked the beginning of a downfall for the most expensive goalkeeper in football history. A series of bad games, followed by some high-profile errors, led to new manager Frank Lampard replace Kepa with veteran Willy Caballero. It seemed like the huge price tag was finally starting to weigh in on the Spaniard.
Chelsea kept hold of Caballero and Kepa for the next campaign while making a successful dash to sign Rennes keeper Edouard Mendy. The Senegal shot-stopper took no time to gain the manager’s trust and become Chelsea’s no.1 choice in the Premier League and Champions League campaigns.
At this point, Kepa was still considered No.2 and afforded cup games. When Thomas Tuchel arrived in place of Lampard, he retained Mendy as his No.1, although afforded Kepa some Premier League games at the very end of the season, when he wanted to keep Mendy fit for the Champions League Final.
However, Chelsea, despite being linked to some high-profile attacking and defensive targets in this current transfer window, chose to bring a new goalkeeper as their first signing. Marcus Bettinelli joined on a free transfer from Fulham and could potentially be seen as the deputy to Mendy given that he is only 29 and has plenty of experience in English football.
Where does that leave Kepa now? There are whispers of a move to Valencia after Chelsea voluntarily offered him on loan to the La Liga side. However, here we analyse if a move to Valencia makes any sense for Kepa and the Blues and how it could impact his future in either good or bad terms.
What went wrong for him at Chelsea
The obvious answer would be his massive dip in form. Making costly errors could be considered part of any goalkeeper’s game, but his consistent bad form in many games forced Lampard to replace him with veteran Caballero. The Argentine did prove somewhat reliable, but his primary job was that of a backup.
Chelsea, in six months, lost all confidence in Kepa and their signing of Edouard Mendy indicated that Kepa might have been a mistake after all. Ironically, when squads were being registered before last season began, Lampard convinced already retired former star Petr Cech to be part of the squad as an emergency keeper. Does that say something about the manager’s confidence in Kepa? Maybe so!
Mendy came in with a reputation of an unknown commodity outside of France. However, he was the chosen one to lead Chelsea in the domestic league as well as Europe. But, the Senegal star’s form kept Kepa mostly on the bench.
Additionally, their signing of Betinelli signals their intentions to send the Spaniard away, albeit on loan. While many would argue Bertinelli could be a third choice keeper to cover for the departed Caballero, his form last season for Middlesborough suggests otherwise.
There seems to be no future at Stamford Bridge for Kepa. The Spaniard can hide behind his long-term contract and warm the bench week in, week out or can push his club to let him join a club like Valencia on loan.
Why does a move back to Spain makes sense?
A move back to Spain makes a lot of sense. Apart from the reasons mentioned before, such as pressure and a convenient home environment, the idea should be to get regular game time in proper conditions. More importantly, Kepa should actively think about resurrecting his career than anything.
If the Chelsea man had taken a look at Spain’s goalkeeping problems at the Euros, he would have been kicking his heels for not being his club’s No.1. With David De Gea’s faltering form pushing him out to be the second choice behind Unai Simon, Kepa should believe a good season at Valencia would make him relevant again for his country.
The upcoming season holds plenty of significance for all players to perform with the World Cup in 2022. Kepa should be at the top of his game and show the world his best version. Let’s not forget, Kepa is still the world’s most expensive keeper ever and once persuaded Athletic Bilbao to hand him an eight-year deal in light of heavy interest from Real Madrid.
A loan to Valencia has its benefits
Valencia are not the biggest of names anymore in Spain as they once were. The club are mired with off-field problems and poor form on the pitch. Their horrible condition last season only helped them to a 13th placed finish, which was even worse than their 9th place finish in the campaign before.
They also have a goalkeeping issue to solve, among other positions. Jasper Cillessen, irrespective of his reputation, has been a disaster for Valencia. Last season’s long-term injury led to Jaume Doménech playing out most of the season in goal. Valencia are actively looking to sell Cillesen, who has two years left on his contract.
The recent appointment of former goalkeeper Jose Bordalas as their new manager will certainly lend some acute focus to the keeper situation. Valencia hold an interest in Kepa, which may come to benefit all parties.
For Kepa, playing for Los Che would mean a period away from the intense pressure of the Premier League. More importantly, he will be back to the familiar surroundings of his homeland Spain and play in an environment where his £72 million price tag does not weigh in constantly.
Valencia will be hoping Chelsea could pay part of his wages, as they certainly will not afford in full. For Chelsea, it could be an opportunity to let their expensive star get game-time and next summer; they could recoup some of the money by selling him. Kepa has a long contract with Chelsea that runs until 2025.
Kepa needs a move away from Stamford Bridge. First and foremost, it will help him resurrect his career; secondly, it will be a good deal for Valencia. Finally, for Chelsea, they have a chance for their expensive signing to get regular game-time and which would allow them to sell him for a significant fee in the summer next year
At 26 years old, the Spaniard has a lot more to offer, maybe not in the Premier League, at least not now. He still holds a good reputation back in his homeland and should use it to have a good season under his belt. He could also become relevant again for Spain in a World Cup season. A move would, thus, prove to be beneficial for all parties involved.