Premier League • England

Fabrizio Romano reveals major Todd Boehly impact as Chelsea reject star’s exit, leaving Potter delighted

Ben Stewart
Kepa Arrizabalaga #1 of Chelsea gives his team instructions

It has been revealed that Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga was close to leaving the club this summer before Todd Boehly intervened.

Kepa had fallen down the pecking order under Thomas Tuchel and was regarded as their backup goalkeeper at the start of the season. The Spanish goalkeeper only made four Premier League starts throughout last season.

The 28-year-old joined Chelsea in the summer of 2018 for a fee of over £70million.

He struggled to adapt to the Premier League in his debut season and made a series of mistakes early on.

Due to the stuttering form of Kepa, Chelsea splashed out on Edouard Mendy in the summer of 2020.

The Senegal international has started in the majority of games since his arrival and Kepa’s chances have been somewhat limited.

Graham Potter has given Kepa a clean slate since his arrival and the Spanish goalkeeper has been excellent of late.

Kepa came to Chelsea’s rescue at the weekend with a series of sublime saves against Aston Villa. The new Chelsea boss tends to favour goalkeepers with good distribution and so Kepa is a natural fit.

Kepa was close to Napoli move

Fabrizio Romano has revealed that Kepa was close to joining Napoli this summer.

The move was initially intended to be a loan deal, with the Italian club then having the option to make it permanent.

Romano explained in his exclusive column for CaughtOffside: “Kepa was actually close to leaving in the summer as Napoli were in advanced talks with Chelsea over a deal.

“In the end, Todd Boehly didn’t accept a loan proposal with buy option as he only wanted to proceed on permanent deal.

“Kepa is now doing great under Graham Potter but I’m sure Edouard Mendy will also be ready to compete soon, so there’s no news on the goalkeepers situation at Chelsea right now.”

Napoli were chasing a goalkeeper as David Ospina had recently left the club on a free transfer.

In the end, the Italian side signed veteran goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu. The 35-year-old joined on a free transfer to add more depth into the goalkeeping department.

Alex Meret remains to be the number one at Napoli for the time being.

Luciano Spalletti’s side have started the season well and currently sit at the top of Serie A. They also top their Champions League group and currently rank as one of Europe’s top scorers.

Chelsea have two good goalkeepers 

The task Potter will face at Chelsea is keeping Kepa and Mendy happy at the same time.

Mendy won the Best FIFA Men’s Goalkeeper award for 2021 and is a popular figure at Stamford Bridge.

Across his 71 Premier League appearances he has kept 31 clean sheets. In comparison, Kepa has kept 28 clean sheets in 83 league appearances.

Given Chelsea’s inconsistent start under Tuchel, it’s fair to say that Mendy didn’t quite seem his usual self at the start of the current campaign.

As Potter has recently taken him out of the limelight, the 30-year-old will now have to fight for his place in the Chelsea lineup.

The Blues have got themselves back on track in the league with four consecutive wins.

If they continue to average 2.11 points per game, they will finish the season with 80 points.  For context, Chelsea managed 74 points last term and finished third.

Potter has had the desired impact at Stamford Bridge and is unbeaten across his opening six matches.

The games will come thick and fast from now on though until we reach the break in play for the World Cup.

Chelsea have a defining week coming up as they face Brentford and Man United in the next seven days.

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