Chelsea are looking to send Kepa Arrizabalaga out on loan this season following Edouard Mendy’s arrival at Stamford Bridge and have set a price of £40million for teams wanting to sign the goalkeeper next summer.
Frank Lampard ran out of patience with Kepa after a series of high-profile and costly mistakes last term and the Blues are preparing to make a significant loss on the 25-year-old after his world-record £71m move from Athletic Bilbao.
The likes of Jan Oblak, Andre Onana and Nick Pope have all been linked with Chelsea over the last few months but the club stepped up talks to sign Rennes’ Mendy with just a few weeks remaining of the transfer window.
Mendy became Lampard’s seventh new addition of a busy summer on Thursday after Chelsea wrapped up a £22m agreement with Rennes for the 28-year-old Senegal international, putting Kepa’s future in serious doubt.
According to The Sun, Chelsea chiefs are keen for Kepa to regain his confidence out on loan this season, away from the constant scrutiny he has experienced over his two-year spell in west London.
It’s hoped a return to some sort of form can drive up Spaniard’s price, with the Premier League giants determined to recoup at least £40m of the record fee they paid for him back in 2018 – which they recognise is unrealistic this summer amid the financial uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Lampard must now decide whether he wants to throw Mendy straight into his starting XI this weekend, with Chelsea facing newly-promoted West Brom at the Hawthorns.
Former England ‘keeper David James hit out at Chelsea’s handling of Kepa this week and claimed the club had failed to protect the Spain international adequately.
‘I studied Kepa before he came to Chelsea and he fascinated me,’ James said on talkSPORT.
‘This guy was capable of making saves I hadn’t seen in the Premier League for a long time, top end stuff, proper, proper top end stuff.
‘But then he would throw one in and I’d think, “OK, there’s a flaw here but if you get the right coaching and right environment for him, this guy could be the best goalkeeper in the Premier League”.
‘But I don’t think Kepa’s had the protection at Chelsea, I think he’s been hung out to dry. If he doesn’t do something right, it’s wrong and he gets absolutely lambasted by everybody. And I’ve been in Kepa’s position, when I was at Liverpool I was that guy.
‘In the end you have to look at yourself to see what you can do, but it’s also about whether you’ve got the environment…
‘You spend £72m on a player, talk about an investment, then you’ve got to work out how much do you spend to make him better rather than, ‘you’re that cost, you should sort it out yourself or not make the mistakes’, which is ludicrous.
‘With Kepa it just seems like confirmation bias; everyone doesn’t like him, so let’s get someone else who could fix the problem.
‘I’ve analysed Mendy, he’s good with his feet, his positioning is good and he likes coming from crosses, which would be interesting if he drops a couple in the Premier League. Give him the opportunity and see if he still comes for crosses after that…
‘Then the next keeper [Loris Karius] doesn’t improve either, and then rather than looking at the individuals you’re looking at the environment and whether the environment they’re working in is conducive to improving players.
‘So with Chelsea, if you’re going to spend £72m on a player and then replace him with a £22m player, you’ve got to ask, is the environment right for either goalkeeper?’