Chelsea paid a world-record sum to sign Kepa Arrizabalaga from Athletic Bilbao in 2018 and manager Thomas Tuchel wants the goalkeeper to play with freedom after a challenging three years
Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel insists the pressure is off Kepa Arrizabalaga despite his world-record price tag.
The Blues paid £72million to sign Kepa from Athletic Bilbao in 2018, making the Spaniard the most-expensive goalkeeper of all time.
Although the 26-year-old was one of the finest shot-stoppers in La Liga, he struggled to replicate that form after arriving at Stamford Bridge.
Edouard Mendy joined from Rennes for £22million last summer and has cemented himself as No.1, winning the UEFA Champions League Goalkeeper of the Season award.
Kepa has had to settle for back-up status, but Tuchel declares he is “happy” and can play without carrying the burden of his price tag.
“His mindset is calm and he is positive,” the Chelsea boss told the club’s official website of Kepa. “It was not necessary for him to prove to me he is a good goalkeeper. I see it every day in training.
“Maybe he is at the point where he does not try too hard to convince everybody he is worth the money the club paid. Who cares about the money? Okay, the money was paid, so what now?
“We have two strong goalkeepers and we need both of them. If you need any proof, look at the weekend, when he was the key factor to have a clean sheet.
“If the money is too high or too low, these measurements do not exist for us. I have a feeling the pressure is off his shoulders.”
Kepa kept a clean sheet in the 3-0 victory over Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday after Mendy sustained a hip injury against Zenit Saint Petersburg last week.
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The Spain international also saved two penalties as Chelsea beat Villarreal via a shootout in the UEFA Super Cup last month.
Kepa is set to keep his place in the Blues line-up to face Aston Villa in the Carabao Cup third round on Wednesday night, with Tuchel adding: “He seems happy to me.
“Everybody wants to have more minutes, but we have contracts for 24 players including the goalkeepers. We simply cannot give everybody the same amount of minutes.
“It is more dramatic for the goalkeepers because obviously you don’t change within games, so the situation seems worse, but I don’t feel Kepa like this. I feel an open guy, a humble guy, a super nice guy, a top, top professional, and a big part of this squad.
“I feel him happy. Maybe he could be happier in terms of having more minutes, but I don’t feel him concerned in the moment because he is pushing and he is fighting for his chances.”