I think it’s fair to say that one of the biggest dividers amongst the Chelsea family this year has been Kepa Arrizabalaga. When Chelsea signed the young keeper back in 2018, they smashed the record transfer fee for a keeper by shelling out in excess of £70 million and all eyes were on Kepa. As with any transfer that holds an eye watering fee, a lot was expected from the Spaniard from across the football world. Unfortunately, I think it’s fair to say that this high level of expectation was not met & after just two seasons with the blues, it looks like Kepa is on his way out.
With only 22 clean sheets across the last two campaigns, costly mistakes, and questionable leadership at the back, it’s no surprise that Chelsea fans are crying out for a replacement. I’ve often found myself defending Kepa when debating the topic with other Chelsea fans, expressing the needs for time and patience but even I have started to doubt his qualifications as Chelsea’s number one.
When you look back at our recent history we were blessed with arguably the greatest keeper the premier league has ever seen in Petr Cech. Even Thibaut Courtois, despite leaving in such a disgraceful manner, was a good man between the sticks for the majority of his stay. With Kepa, it just hasn’t been the same story. He hasn’t shown the qualities expected from a Chelsea keeper. We have seen countless, costly mistakes in big games, a lack of dominance in his own box, a poor attitude towards management (I doubt any of us can forget his refusal to be subbed during the League Cup final in 2019) to the point that Lampard dropped him at certain points this last season as well.
It doesn’t paint a pretty picture & for the fee Chelsea paid, I think it’s reasonable that more was expected from him. So, where do we go from here? If the rumours are to be believed, Lampard has had enough and he wants to bring in someone else to wear the number 1 shirt. Who does Lampard go for? Welcome to the scene, Jan Oblak.
Oblak signed for Atlético Madrid on July 16th 2014 after, ironically, Chelsea reclaimed Thibaut Courtois. Since then he has become one of the most respected keepers across Europe, forging a fierce reputation as an outstanding goal keeper. Oblak has been described as a strong, tall and intelligent keeper with a fantastic ability to read the game and dominate in the air. In 180 La Liga appearances for Atleti he has conceded just 115 goals and kept 99 clean sheets. In their victory over Liverpool this season he made nine saves, this is more than any goal keeper has made in the UCL this season. At 27-years-old, he is arguably at the peak of his abilities and they sometimes say that keepers age like a fine wine, so this is as good a time as any to go for him. I actually thought we should have gone for him after Courtois left, but, it didn’t materialise.
Comparing Oblak to Kepa
It’s all well and good talking about the player but let’s look at the stats & compare those with Kepa. In the 19/20 season Kepa had a clean sheet percentage of 24.2% in the Premier League while Oblak managed 44.7%. Kepa faced 99 shots on goal and made only 55 saves while Oblak faced 105 shots on target and made 82 saves. To put it plainly, Oblak faced 6 more shots than Kepa did but managed a huge 32 more saves. Oblak conceded just 27 goals over the course of the season while Kepa conceded 47. The stats don’t lie and it only goes to strengthen the evidence that Oblak would be a serious improvement over Kepa in Chelsea’s goal.
Make no mistake, any offer for Oblak will not be cheap and Atlético will not want to sell their man without a fight, but if Chelsea seriously want to challenge for silverware once again in the next few years, then these are the type of players we need to be signing. In fairness, our recent transfer activity has been very exciting. The wealth of attacking talent that has been brought in is brilliant & the recent announcement of Ben Chilwell and Thiago Silva shows that Chelsea are looking to improve at the back as well. If we can get hold of Oblak, our backline and goal keeper will look a lot more solid and Chelsea fans can breathe a sigh of relief when a corner is fired our way!