Kepa Arrizabalaga may have kept a clean sheet on Tuesday — even he can’t screw that up facing zero shots on target, amirite? — but his future at the club appears to be very much in doubt once again, as he’s failed to build on his return to good form from just before the lockdown.
The financial and contractual realities of the situation may eventually dictate that the status quo be maintained, but putting that aside for a minute, there is also the not-so-small matter identifying a proper replacement rather than just a sideways move, or worse. Kepa may have fallen out of Chelsea Twitter’s fickle good graces, but he remains the club’s first-choice goalkeeper. He may not be an €80m goalkeeper like Alisson, but he’s certainly capable of pulling off saves like the one that preserved three points against Crystal Palace — not to mention all his crucial stops in our victorious Europa League campaign last season.
Chelsea have been linked with targets good and bad, some intriguing and some less so, but if there is one dream signing at the position, it’s got to be Atlético Madrid’s Jan Oblak, on whom we’re supposedly willing to spend in the region of €100m.
The 27-year-old tower of goalkeeping power, signed in 2014 to replace a certain Thibaut Courtois, has been nothing short of sensational, consistent, practically legendary in his six years on the red stripey side of Madrid. In fact, he’s become so entrenched at the club that head coach Diego Simeone — himself even more entrenched after a decade of constant links to other teams — isn’t exactly worried about him leaving.
“It does not surprise me, every year our most important players are wanted by the best in the world. It is normal to always look for the best — and we have many. Some have left and others have stayed.
“It is logical and normal that anyone wants Oblak. He is our captain and an important player. I hope we can count on his work, which is enormous for Atleti.”
“I repeat the same thing: it is normal that they want a goalkeeper of his characteristics and value. It does not surprise me. He is decisive and important in the dressing room year after year. He has evolved in every way, as a goalkeeper and within the group.”
-Diego Simeone; source: Goal
As Oblak has evolved into something ever greater, his contract his grown right alongside it. It currently contains a €120m release clause, but it sounds like even if Chelsea were to pay that because FFP clearly is a mirage, Oblak might not be persuaded to come.
And it would undoubtedly take something that outrageous to even get a seat at the negotiating table, as rumors have made it quite clear that Atlético are not at all interested in getting Kepa in return.
That said, when “The Russian” is involved, you never know. What Abramovich wants, Abramovich tends to get, isn’t that right, Atlético Madrid assistant coach Germán Burgos?
El Mono Burgos, en @ellarguero: "Si cito a uno que me llevaría del Atlético de Madrid quedo mal, los tengo que nombrar a todos. Mira que el ruso quiere llevarse a Oblak..."— Pedro Fullana (@PedroFullanaSER) July 15, 2020
(That translates to something like “If I mention only one name who could leave Atlético Madrid, it would be bad; I’d have to name them all. Look, the Russian wants to take Oblak...”)