Willy Caballero may have conceded seven goals in his two Champions League starts this season, but it would be harsh to hold those against him. Bayern outclassed Chelsea in just about every aspect over the two legs of our Round of 16 matchup, highlighting just how far we need to improve to get to play with the big boys once again.
That does include the goalkeeper position of course — probably one of the priorities, even — with Chelsea actively looking for a replacement or added competition for Kepa Arrizabalaga. The latter outcome, which seems more likely due to Kepa’s contract and transfer fee, would not bode too well for Caballero. Signing a new goalkeeper without Kepa leaving would likely push the 38-year-old down to third choice.
But having gotten a taste of real first-team action lately, Caballero’s ready to keep pushing for more. His 5 Premier League starts are the second highest total of his six seasons in England, and the highest in his three-year Chelsea career.
“I want to keep playing. In the last month, I became the first goalkeeper and we will see what happens in the future. I will keep working hard to have this opportunity again.”
Caballero signed a new one-year contract in May, and considering that he will turn 39 next month, he probably doesn’t have much longer left after that in his playing career. While Chelsea obviously need to improve in the goalkeeping department, having Caballero in the team for next season will be beneficial regardless — whether he plays or not.
Perhaps the most realistic compromise for all involved would be to sign a new No.1, send Kepa on loan, and keep Caballero as the primary backup. That won’t be an easy thing to pull off, certainly not without a massive financial hit, but that’s the (literal) price we have to pay for a bet gone wrong two summers ago.
Whatever happens, Willy C will be there to provide a solid baseline.
“I signed a new one-year contract and I am really happy to play with this shirt. [As always] when I’m in second position as a goalkeeper I train as if I am starting.”
-Wilfredo Caballero; source: Evening Standard
Every successful team needs a blend of youth and experience. Caballero has been an excellent backup for the past three years, and should continue to be this coming season as well.