When Chelsea signed Kepa Arrizabalaga near the end of the Premier League’s transfer window last summer, eye brows were raised at the eye watering price tag of £72 million. Despite the events of ‘Kepa-Gate’ during the Carabao Cup Final, you’ll find very few Chelsea fans that aren’t immensely happy with the Blues’ decision to put their faith in the 24-year old as he’s enjoyed a very good and promising first season in English football.
There was, however, a second goalkeeper who joined Chelsea’s ranks at the start of this season and also caused quite a few fans to be surprised, though not in the same way as with Kepa. Rob Green’s arrival at Stamford Bridge was smiled at around the Premier League and, even though the veteran didn’t make a single start for the Blues, Green offered experience en masse and was a constant source of good vibes.
The former Leeds, QPR, and West Ham man may not have been anything more than someone to fill up a necessary homegrown spot in our squad, but, with 658 games in professional football, will have been able to share his invaluable experience with our younger goalkeepers, something that Kepa will have profited from. Now, the former England international was full of praise for Chelsea’s ‘Kepa’ as he hailed the Spaniard’s performances this season:
“Kepa for his first season in the Premier League has had a fantastic season, and one that he will get stronger off the back of. The demands. He’s a young guy. The amount of football he has played, all of a sudden he has gone into a season where he has played probably 50 games, more than 50 games. And it’s not just the games themselves, he’s going away for internationals, he’s travelling all round Europe to play these games. And the intensity of the games, and the spotlight of the games is far greater. He has managed that and maintained his performance throughout. His talent was there – it doesn’t take an expert to see that. But I think what don’t you realise when you’re out of it is the demands it has on someone who is still a young lad.”
Green is of course completely right in his assertion that Kepa has had a brilliant first season in England and will certainly only get better, possibly even superseding Manchester United’s David de Gea as Spain’s number one goalkeeper sooner rather than later. 14 clean sheets in 36 Premier League games is a very decent start to Kepa’s career here and, keeping Chelsea’s patchy season in mind, the former Bilbao stopper will only get better, especially as he will have gained priceless experience in two big, big finals once the Europa League final takes place in a fortnight.
“The Europa League is an interesting tournament. What I have learned is you realise how much it takes out of the team and how demanding the schedule is. The boys are coming back from a long way away, you’re talking Greece or Ukraine, landing on a Friday and you look at the lads and the staff and they’re dead on their feet, and you’re thinking we’ve got another game in 48 hours. The standards that have been maintained throughout despite the demands is something that is truly a credit to the lads and everybody involved with the club.” – Rob Green; Chelsea FC
Despite Green not going down as one of our most influential signings in the history books, it’s nevertheless great to see him heap the praise on Chelsea’s number one between the sticks for the foreseeable future as Kepa has laid the groundwork to become a true legend at the club. This isn’t going unnoticed among the squad and we should all be excited about how high the 24-year old’s ceiling still is!
Written by Jimmy Funnell (@JimmyFunnellCFC). Follow me on Twitter!