Kepa Arrizabalaga is one of the confident goalkeepers with the ball at his feet. He is quick and agile with wonderful reflexes. He has proven to be a good penalty keeper saving two out of three penalties in the Spanish top flight. He has been Chelsea’s hero in penalty shootouts, the memorable one being in the UEFA Super Cup final against Villareal where he helped Chelsea secure a victory with excellent saves.
The Spanish shot-stopper started his career in Athletic Bilbao’s youth team in 2004. He will play in the fourth tier of the Spanish League with Club Deportivo Basconia. Kepa mainly played for the Atletic Bilbao’s B team till January 2015 when he was loaned to SD Ponferradina in the Segunda Division. He was on the move again in July 2015 moving to Real Valladolid for a one-season loan.
Kepa Arrizabalaga made his first senior appearance in September 2016 but remained a third choice option behind first choice Gorka Iraizoz, and Iago Herrerin.
Due to transfer interest from Real Madrid, Atletic Bilbao tied Kepa Arrizabalaga to a new contract in 2018 till June 2025. Chelsea activated his release clause of €80 million in August 2018. He signed a seven-year contract becoming the most expensive goalkeeper in world football.
Kepa Arrizabalaga will become an undisputed first-choice goalkeeper under Maurizio Sarri. He helped guide Chelsea to the EFL Cup final as Chelsea succumbed to Manchester City in the penalty shootout. He had an altercation with Sarri refusing to be substituted. He will be subsequently fined by the team.
He will make amends in the Europa League where he helped Chelsea defeat Arsenal in the final.
The arrival of Frank Lampard ahead of the 2019/20 season saw Kepa retain his position. But a string of poor performances during the course of the season saw him relegated to the bench. Willy Caballero will take his place at some point including the FA Cup final loss against Arsenal.
With Kepa struggling to inspire and maintain his form, Frank Lampard decided it will be good for Chelsea to sign a new goalkeeper. Stade Rennes goalkeeper, Edouard Mendy was purchased. He immediately dislodged Kepa from the first team. He will play regularly in the FA Cup and impressed even though Chelsea lost in the final against Leicester City.
In the 2021 UEFA Super Cup win against Villareal, Thomas Tuchel sensing that the game will end in a penalty shootout opted to substitute Mendy for Kepa. This is because Kepa is a proven penalty specialist. He will go on to save two penalties as Chelsea won.
Kepa Arrizabalaga made his international debut in November 2017. He will make the team that went to the 2018 World Cup in Russia and the qualifying rounds of the European Championship.
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