Thomas Tuchel Says Kepa Arrizabalaga Can Still Turn His Chelsea Career Around

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Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel believes that back-up goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga can still turn his career at Stamford Bridge around. Still holding the designation as the world’s most expensive shot-stopper, Kepa was purchased for a fee of £71.6 million from Athletic Bilbao in the summer of 2018.

Tuchel is the third different manager that he has played for at Chelsea in three years, and he lost his gig under the previous gaffer, Frank Lampard. The club brought Edouard Mendy in from Rennes to replace him in the summer transfer window.

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Tuchel made it clear that Arrizabalaga would start tonight’s FA Cup 5th round clash at Barnsley FC tonight. This was to be expected, as the Spaniard is relegated to domestic cup competition only these days.

The recently appointed boss believes the struggling goalie can salvage his Blues career, provided he doesn’t overthink it.

“Of course we had a view on his situation, and some difficulties on the sporting side,” Tuchel said. “Maybe also the circumstances of his transfer maybe a little bit on his shoulders. That was the impression from outside.

“From inside I see a nice guy, I see a nice personality, an open personality, a hard-working guy, with obviously a lot of quality.

“So the good thing for him is that we start new, it’s a new start for him. I don’t have a history with him and I hope there will be no difficulties, because I don’t see them coming.

“He’s a clear guy, an open guy. He does everything to impress in training. I’m happy I feel all three goalkeepers in a good atmosphere, they are competitors to each other, it’s a very special position in football of course, it’s a very decisive position, it has its own rules.

“If you make mistakes everybody sees them and talks about them. So you need a lot of mental strength and quality and I see this in all three goalkeepers. Kepa has a chance tomorrow and I hope he can show what he shows in training.”

Tuchel said that Kepa Arrizabalaga can “absolutely, today, absolutely” win his place back and get his career going again, before continuing:

“Nobody wants to sit [on the bench], I absolutely understand that. No goalkeeper wants to sit [on the bench] and none of my guys wants to travel tomorrow to sit on the bench. They don’t want to sit and I don’t want them to want to sit. I want them to be on the pitch, to play huge roles.

“At the same time, we give the same amount of support to Edou and hopefully to Willy [Caballero].

“The situation is for Kepa the situation he finds right now. We didn’t make a change in the first game and Ed was strong in the moment. So tomorrow is an opportunity to show and hopefully, it’s very important for me to say this, he doesn’t want to overachieve. I want him to do a normal match tomorrow.

“He does not have to show me or anybody else tomorrow he is ready to be Spain’s No. 1 in the summer. He just has to show his quality. Not more or less.

“So we have to manage expectations because I don’t expect him to score and keep a clean sheet. I just want him to help us with his quality and he gives a solid performance to help the team.

“He has big goals to achieve and personal ambition. But this is normal, it’s why he’s here.”

We shall see, starting tonight.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank, partnered with News NowBanks, the author of “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” has regularly appeared in WGNSports IllustratedChicago Tribune and SB NationFollow him on Twitter and Instagram.

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