Chelsea legend Gianfranco Zola admits he has been surprised by the demise of the club’s £72million goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga and feels sorry for the Spain international.
Much was expected of the former Athletic Bilbao shot stopper when he was recruited as the replacement for Thibaut Courtois, who joined Real Madrid after four trophy-laden years as the club’s No.1.
Zola was assistant to Maurizio Sarri when Kepa was recruited in the summer of 2018, but he has struggled to convince either Sarri or his successor Frank Lampard, who has immediately installed summer signing Edouard Mendy as his new first choice goalkeeper.
‘I’m very surprised,’ Zola told talkSPORT. ‘I know he is very young and he came to Chelsea for big money and that is a big burden to carry on your shoulders, and in a way this is probably affecting him.
‘I could understand a little bit of difficulty, but this is going beyond what was expected and it surprised me. And I am sorry for the boy because he is a good boy and a good goalkeeper.
‘He has to pick himself up and do what he can do and show people he is different, because I believe he has got potential.’
Chelsea confirmed their 25-man Premier League squad on Tuesday with Lampard causing a stir by including the club’s technical director, Petr Cech as a precaution amid the ongoing conronavirus pandemic.
Reacting to Cech’s inclusion, Zola added: ‘I’m totally surprised by that. At 38 he is, especially for a goalkeeper, at an age where nowadays it is quite normal.
‘Petr has got unbelievable ability and experience, but I don’t know the condition of his body right now to be honest.
‘But with his experience and ability as a goalkeeper there is no doubt he can do it.’