Kepa Arrizabalaga says he’s ‘no longer afraid’ and never thought about leaving Chelsea

The Spanish stopper was signed for a world record fee but has struggled for consistency

Karl Matchett
Friday 19 February 2021 13:41 GMT
Kepa Arrizabalaga in training for Chelsea
Kepa Arrizabalaga in training for Chelsea (Getty)

Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga says he never considered departing Stamford Bridge, despite enduring what he describes as a “complicated” period with the club.

The 26-year-old wears the No. 1 shirt, but has been displaced as the actual first-choice goalkeeper by summer signing Edouard Mendy after an erratic run of form with several high-profile mistakes.

He was dropped by Frank Lampard toward the end of last season, replaced by Willy Caballero for the FA Cup final, and has made just eight appearances in all competitions this season. His first Premier League game under the management of new boss Thomas Tuchel came in the Monday night win over Newcastle, though the boss confirmed that Mendy would remain the regular starter.

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Kepa isn’t deterred, though, and says his focus is on improving his own performances after returning to a stronger state of mind in recent times.

“Three months ago things were difficult. It has been a complicated year for a number of reasons. But I have never thought about leaving Chelsea,” he told COPE.

“I did not have any problems with Lampard. It’s true that I did not give the best version of myself or play as I would have wanted. But we never had any issue.

“I hope to turn things around and I rely on my family, on trustworthy people, more than anything.

“I feel good after my period of inactivity. I hope to play more, what I want is to feel an important part of the team, win back my place and enjoy it. I am no longer afraid and I’ll work for it.”

Looking ahead to Chelsea’s Champions League tie with Atletico Madrid, he picked out Jan Oblak as the player he’d most like to be absent for the match, explaining his admiration for one of the world’s top performers in his own position - and said he was never close to a move to Real Madrid before moving to Stamford Bridge, as had been rumoured at the time.

The Blues are back in action at the weekend with a trip to Southampton, before the first leg against Atletico in midweek.

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