What is it with Februaries and Kepa?
Last February, he made all the headlines and memes with his “mutiny” against Sarri, getting dropped for one game for the “misunderstanding”, then resuming his usual post between the posts. The only other league game he didn’t start last season was the very last, and by-then irrelevant match of the season.
This February, he’s once again found himself dropped to the bench. Granted, this development was a culmination of recent misfortunes, but here we are again with Kepa making the headlines this month.
Whether Lampard’s decision was the correct one and whether it was justified could be up for debate — Caballero wasn’t flawless by any means, making one very important save, but also looking foolish on at least one of the goals, even if both goals were down more to defending than anything else (see also: most of Kepa’s conceded goals).
The real question is, what happens now?
The prevailing assumption appears to be that Lampard’s decision was more of a reminder and a public warning to Kepa that his position is not unassailable. Once we return from the two-week break, Kepa will probably be back. Chelsea invested a literal record-amount in him 18 months ago, and that makes completely giving up on him not an easy decision — and it would make moving him on an even tougher proposition.
Spanish media however are already expecting the worst, with COPE’s sensationalists claiming that not only does Lampard not like Kepa, and that he’d wanted to drop the goalkeeper for some time now, but that Kepa is unlikely to start again this season (outside of maybe cup games). That sure sounds dramatic!
The report, which is couched in Kepa’s flagging prospects for Euro 2020 as a result of these developments, goes on to claim that Saturday’s decision, as surprising as it may have been, was a long-time coming and actually expected by both the club and the player’s “environment”, all of whom are now looking at their options for the summer.
That latter part is less surprising of course. Whether Kepa stays or goes, Chelsea will need some goalkeeping help — be that with a different backup (Caballero, at 38, is near the end of his playing career), or with different coaching, or both.
Noticia @ferevangelio— Tiempo de Juego (@tjcope) February 1, 2020
(Sobre la suplencia de KEPA)
"A Lampard no le gusta Kepa y tiene muy difícil jugar de aquí a final de temporada, sobre todo, en partidos grandes".
"Le ha pedido a la Dir. Dep. un portero para junio".
Hoy ha jugado Caballero (38 años). pic.twitter.com/4we2ef0DQZ