The Spaniard may not have ‘set the world alight’ but a desire to work and improve could see him go down as a club legend in the future
Former goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer believes Kepa Arrizabalaga could ‘easily’ be Chelsea’s first-choice shot-stopper for the next 15 years as long as the Spain international continues to stay fit and improve at Stamford Bridge.
Clean sheets have been at a premium for the Blues of late, with new boss Frank Lampard only able to record one – a home win against Brighton in the Premier League – since the start of the 2018-19 campaign.
Schwarzer, however, a former Blues player himself, believes that Kepa, the world’s most expensive goalkeeper, can go on to have a long and successful career between the sticks in London like some of the club’s former greats.
“I think Kepa has grown, but it’s a massive step up from Athletic Bilbao,” the Australian told The Athletic. “There is always that added attention. Chelsea over the years have had top, top keepers. Following [Petr] Cech and [Thibaut] Courtois is no easy feat for anyone.
“It’s hard for anyone to compare with someone like Cech, who won every [club] trophy there is to win. We can only really do that with Kepa 10 years down the line. With Thibaut, he was there for a shorter amount of time. I was a big fan of his, but longevity is huge so Petr stands alone.
“At 25, Kepa is very young in goalkeeping terms. He has a long way to go. He could be there for the next 15 years easily – if he stays fit and continues to get better and better.”
With Chelsea currently serving a two-window transfer ban and having sold David Luiz to Arsenal, the Blues’ backline is far from settled. And it will likely take time before relationships between players are built upon and a more solid foundation is in place.
Kepa’s English has improved again this season, however, and his communication will be key in shoring up a porous defence. Schwarzer, though, is keen to see the whole team work together in recovering possession to ease the load on the 25-year-old.
“When you’re conceding goals, it plays a big part on your mind as a keeper, even if you are not at fault,” he said.
“The fact is you are the conductor, you are leading the guys, you are in charge of organising the line and you do feel responsible. You feel it is a blemish on you and keepers are judged on how many clean sheets they keep.
“Chelsea are conceding more goals this season but that is down to the set-up as well. It is hard. You need a team to work well together, to operate as 11 defending, not just the back four and the keeper.
“It is unusual to see Chelsea let in so many. But they are in a transitional period, there are inexperienced players learning their trade. They are doing very well but part of the sacrifice is you’re leaving yourself more open and let opponents have more chances.
“Without setting the world alight, I think Kepa has played well this season. It is going to take time. You have to stay confident.”
Click Here: cheap INTERNATIONAL jersey