Chelsea boss Frank Lampard made a major statement on Sunday, by dropping Kepa Arrizabalaga for the Blues’ decisive Premier League clash with Wolves.
Willy Caballero was chosen to start in goal by Lampard, after the Spanish stopper – the world’s most expensive goalkeeper at £71million – conceded five at Liverpool in midweek.
Kepa’s long-term future is in question at Stamford Bridge, having failed to really impose himself in his two seasons at the club.
The Spaniard, 25, has struggled to dominate in the way that predecessors Thibaut Courtois and Petr Cech did, and has been heavily criticised for errors.
He was dropped by Lampard for a spell earlier in the season – but to drop him for a game where Chelsea know a draw will seal a Champions League spot, but defeat could see them miss out completely, suggests that the coach has had enough.
A number of Kepa’s teammates rounded on him during the game at Liverpool, notably directing their anger at the ‘keeper as he failed to come for one cross into his six-yard box.
“It’s just a choice, just a choice,” explained Lampard, speaking to Sky Sports.
“Kepa’s had some difficult times, so I’ve chosen Willy.”
Kepa cost £4million more than Liverpool stopper Alisson, just days after the Brazilian moved to Anfield, where he has had a transformative effect on the Reds defence.
But he has made little impact and Chelsea’s defensive record has been a major reason that they have been so far behind the top two this term.
Already, he is being tipped to return to Spain – although Chelsea will struggled to recoup anything like their record outlay.
Chelsea meanwhile have been linked with a move to find a replacement this summer.
Atletico Madrid No.1 Jan Oblak is seen as a potential solution, while Ajax’s Andre Onana has similarly been mooted.
Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp insisted: “It’s not a big surprise for me. He doesn’t make enough saves.
“You don’t do that to your No.1 goalkeeper. He feels he’s not the right man. He’s not in form, he doesn’t make enough big saves.
“He cost £75million and he hasn’t been a success.”
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