This article is part of Football FanCast’s Pundit View series, which provides opinion and analysis on recent quotes from journalists, pundits, players and managers…
Mark Schwarzer has told the Athletic that Kepa Arrizabalaga could be the club’s goalkeeper for the “next 15 years” if he continues to improve.
Spain international Kepa joined Chelsea from Athletic Bilbao last summer for a world-record fee – for a goalkeeper – of £71m. Since then, he has been the club’s number one, making 64 appearances for the Blues to date.
Schwarzer, too, spent time at Stamford Bridge, and he has been talking about the 25-year-old. And he predicts a big future for him in south-west London as long as he improves.
He explained, “I think Kepa has grown, but it’s a massive step up from Athletic Bilbao. There is always that added attention. Chelsea over the years have had top, top keepers. Following [Petr] Cech and [Thibaut] Courtois is no easy feat for anyone.
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“At 25, Kepa is very young in goalkeeping terms. He has a long way to go. He could be there for the next 15 years easily – if he stays fit and continues to get better and better.”
You know what they say in football: you’re only as good as your last game. By taking that to heart, we can observe that Kepa showed both good and bad qualities against Lille in the Champions League on Wednesday.
On the plus side, he made some hugely important saves. Luiz Araujo’s shot was arrowing into the bottom corner in the first half, for example, before the shot-stopper intervened, whilst he also got an important touch to Benjamin Andre’s glancing header after the break.
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He also needed to be alert on a number of occasions when the opposition’s players were through on goal. Twice, he needed to make a last-gasp dive at the feet of the striker to take the ball, but he did so successfully on both occasions.
However, it must be noted that one of those situations arose due to Kepa’s poor footwork on the ball, giving it straight to a player in red. His pass accuracy also left a lot to be desired, with him completing just 68.4% of all the passes he attempted.
There were, therefore, some positives and negatives to draw from the game, and he should take time to analyse his display.
If he wants to leave a legacy at Stamford Bridge like either of those two goalkeepers who preceded him, especially Cech, he will need to be far more consistent moving forward.