When Édouard Mendy signed, Chelsea went to great lengths to not call him the new No.1 goalkeeper even though everybody and their mother, and Kepa, too, saw quite clearly that he was.
two three starts and two clean sheets, there’s no longer any point in denying the obvious apparently, as Frank Lampard told reporters following yesterday’s 0-0 draw against Sevilla.
“At the moment yes [Mendy’s number-one]; he’s shown his quality.
“The way he’s played, he’s played very well, that’s two clean sheets for him already. As it stands he is but that’s always up for grabs. But the way he’s playing I’m very happy.”
Lip service aside, the job is obviously Mendy’s to lose and given the performances of Kepa Arrizabalaga and Willy Caballero, he’d have to drop a fair bit from his current levels for that to even become a question.
But speaking of questions, the most pertinent one now is what happens with Kepa. Obviously, nothing can actually happen until January at the earliest — at least nothing that doesn’t involve a rocketship, and I don’t mean the band — but keeping him as third choice is helping no one. And given Chelsea’s unprecedented move to register Petr Čech (claimed to be a “no-brainer” by Lampard, yet it’s really anything but), speculation cannot be far behind.
“I’m not sure if we’ll see [Čech] this season, it depends on how things go of course. But it’s a total no-brainer to have him in the squad for the reasons of the pandemic and everything that’s happened.”
-Frank Lampard; source: Sky
In fact, said speculation has already started in Spain, with Estadio Deportivo expecting Sevilla to at least make an inquiry in January. The team we just played were first linked in the summer, when it looked like they might be losing their starting goalkeeper, Yassine “Bono” Bounou. Since then, Sevilla were able to convert the 29-year-old’s loan to a transfer from Girona (and thus allowing Sergio Rico to do the same at PSG), but now face uncertainty over the future of backup Tomas Vaclík, whose contract expires at the end of the season.
Obviously, Sevilla aren’t going to pay Kepa’s €8m annual salary just for him to be their backup, but they might pay half (or even less if Kepa’s agreeable), according to the report. Considering that Kepa’s value is just about hitting rock bottom (while he still has almost five years left on his Chelsea contract), that may be the best we (and he) could hope for at the moment.