It’s a standard football club PR move to disseminate a few juicy transfer stories following distasteful defeats, and few things stories play better after last night’s 3-2 defeat to West Ham than Chelsea looking to axe wilting flower Kepa Arrizabalaga while making yet another big splash in the market with Kai Havertz.
Even if neither of those moves would necessarily prevent another poor outing at the Olympic Stadium.
For Havertz, the word is that we’re “ready to step up” our pursuit, which as we know is at least two steps above “monitoring”. Watch out, world!
The Telegraph maintain that Havertz is “near” the top of our wishlist and that our “desire to improve” our attack hasn’t been deterred by the latest defensive shambles, or the fact that we’ve scored two or more goals in each of our last six games, something which we hadn’t done in six years. Citing unnamed German media reports, the report adds that a bid is expected once Havertz plays his final game for Bayer Leverkusen — ironically, that will be against Bayern Munich, who are also hot on his heels but maybe only for next summer.
But hey, winning 5-4 is better than winning 1-0, right? We remain top four despite our second worst defensive record in the Premier League era, after all.
While Matt Law’s report does mention Ben Chilwell — who also won’t really solve our defensive woes by himself — the emphasis in terms of stopping the bleed at the back is Kepa Arrizabalaga, who’s apparently back on the [SHIRT] list (the shirts with the stupid cartoony ‘3’ logo, that is) after his weak performance against West Ham.
While not directly at fault for the goals, Kepa displayed all the hallmarks of unquantifiable badness we’ve come to know and love, including some unimpressive distribution (both short and long), lack of confidence in facing shots or 1-v-1s, and an extreme lack of command in and around his six-yard box.
Seems like Kepa’s upturn in form just before the lockdown was short-lasting.
The trouble with any intentions to move Kepa is of course the untold millions invested in him. No one’s going to pay anywhere near the €80m for him, and that was true even before the pandemic. Few could afford his £150k wages either, especially among those who actually need a new goalkeeper. Most teams who can pay that much have their goalkeeper situations well settled or planned.
The report claims that unnamed teams in La Liga are interested in a potential loan, but Chelsea would have to subsidize Kepa’s wages. We’d also have to come up with a replacement, and at the moment, apparently there is no “obvious candidate” for that. Not sure what happened to André Onana or Dean Henderson or some of the others linked previously.
And of course, missing out on the Champions League next year would make all of this — the Kais and the Kepas — a lot less feasible.