Is it wise to bench the world’s most expensive goalkeeper?
Frank Lampard benched Kepa Arrizabalaga in favor of Father Time Caballero in Chelsea’s last match, against Leicester City. Kepa was already facing scrutiny over a string on unimpressive performances and ugly statistics this season, but that bold move from the head coach has truly lit the fuse.
Rumors that Frank Lampard has lost faith in him for good and is looking for a replacement, such as Andre Onana or Mike Maignan or other less impressive options, certainly doesn’t bode well for the future.
However, the Mail will have you know that the ones most worried about this development are ... (pause for dramatic effect) ... the Chelsea Board! TA-dah!
The report talks about this issue causing “serious agitation” in the boardroom (i.e. “oops we did it again”) and a “potential future conflict” between Lampard and Marina Granovskaia, but what’s a good rumor if there is no drama in it, eh? (No, Palpable Discord, that’s not your cue yet. Sit down.)
Chelsea are apparently fearful that the value of the world’s most expensive goalkeeper, bought with a view towards stability at the position rather than resale value, will plummet — which of course is a silly thing to worry about. What we/they should be worried about is WHY that value is plummeting. Hint: it’s not because Lampard is playing favorites with Willy Freaking Caballero.
Even if we assume that Kepa was “worth” the €80m transfer fee (which he quite clearly wasn’t), a player’s value is dictated by his performances. The best goalkeeper in the world may be worth €80m — though Liverpool got him for “only” €72.5m — but Kepa’s not there. He never was. We paid for potential, too, and so he may be in the future, but trying to price him now will lead to certain disappointment. Sure, if he continues to sit on the bench, that value will continue to drop. Maybe he should try playing better? His benching is unlikely to be permanent at this stage, contrary to media speculation.
It is also worth noting that Kepa signed a 7-year contract (2025 expiration) and is collecting somewhere in the region of £150k weekly — a standard wage for a key Chelsea player. Chelsea bet the farm on him to herald in a new goalkeeping era. That won’t be an easy decision to undo or redo, regardless of what anyone on the Board or on the coaching staff might feel. They’re all experienced in these manners, too, so they will know that fact just as much as we do.
So as the Mail tries to sell us some juicy sour grapes, what we all need to recognize is that Kepa will not be easy to shift or sell, even if wanted to, simply due to the financials involved if nothing else. But if we’ve given up on him already — and that’s a decision that won’t be purely down to Lampard or Granovskaia or anyone else involved in it — then we also have much bigger concerns to deal with than just Kepa’s resale value.