Premier League • England

Thomas Tuchel casts doubts on world-record Chelsea signing as Newcastle gain transfer hope

Kepa Arrizabalaga future - Thomas Tuchel - seen here during Chelsea's FA Cup match against Sheffield United - says talks are needed

Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel admits he will hold honest talks over the future of Kepa Arrizabalaga this summer, having hinted for the first time that his exit could be on the cards.

The Spanish keeper became the world’s most expensive keeper in summer 2018 when the Blues met his £71.6m exit fee. Chelsea, having sold Thibaut Courtois to Real Madrid, turned to the Athletic Bilbao stopper in the mammoth deal. Indeed, his signing shattered the previous top fees paid out by Liverpool and Manchester City for Alisson and Ederson, respectively.

However, Kepa’s time in south-west London has not gone as well as some predicted. He has rarely convinced as Chelsea No 1, and was in and out of the side under Frank Lampard’s management.

And to add salt into his wounds, he lost his place to veteran Argentine keeper Willy Caballero.

Ultimately, it was no surprise to see Chelsea ultimately splash out big money again on another keeper. However, it’s fair to say the £22m paid to Rennes for Edouard Mendy has proved a successful investment.

Now in his fourth season at Chelsea, Kepa has played an increasingly dwindling role at the club. In fact, he only featured 14 times in all competitions last season. And it’s been a similar story this, with just 15 games under his belt.

For an 11-times capped Spain international, who is still only 27, clearly that is not good enough.

As such, it’s little surprise to see Kepa being linked with a move away.

To that end, Arrizabalaga reportedly has a number of LaLiga suitors all keen to bring him back to Spain.

However, recently it is Newcastle United who are reportedly most likely to make their move.

Eddie Howe’s side, with the huge financial backing of their Saudi owners, are preparing for a massive summer.

They plan to strengthen all areas of their side, with a new goalkeeper very much in their thinking.

Tuchel gives Newcastle hope

Now Tuchel has given Newcastle hope that Kepa Arrizabalaga will be allowed to leave this summer.

“We need to ask him, and we need to be honest with him. And he needs to be honest with us, this is the most important,” Tuchel told Football.London

“He is still our player, and we don’t know about the situation with the ownership, what is possible and what is not. So first of all, he is our player, and he is a fantastic guy to deal with this kind of situation, which is not easy for him.

“I felt his disappointment around the Club World Cup where he played a brilliant semi-final, but we put in Edou in the final. I felt his disappointment, I could understand it even, and we had a talk about it.

“And I felt his disappointment also for the Carabao Cup final because he brought us there and had the feeling he deserved – and he was right – to play in the final. Still, we made the decision for Edou.

“It’s always a thin line in these decisions. There is never a 100% reason to go against Kepa because he deserves it, and we trust him. But this is such an obvious decision when you go for somebody [in goal] that you can’t play the other person because there is no other position than goalkeeper. I think it will influence, of course, his feeling about it and how he sees it.

“Edou is the number one and deserves to be the number one. I think it’s also important that a goalkeeper at this moment of the season feels this moment like it. I experienced different at other clubs, and it was never really good if you have these open situations – a mistake maybe then leads to a new open race. It’s too sensitive this position for it.”

Kepa Arrizabalaga to have talks on Chelsea future

Kepa is often considered Chelsea’s ‘cup goalkeeper’, often coming into the side in the FA Cup and the Carabao Cup.

However, Tuchel was addressing his future after he decided to go against the grain and select Mendy in Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final against Crystal Palace.

And hinting for the first time that a decision needs to be made, Tuchel added: “We need to be honest first of all [with Kepa], and he has to stay fully involved like he is. Yesterday in training, he was simply fantastic.

Kepa Arrizabalaga needs honest talks with Chelsea about his future

Kepa Arrizabalaga needs honest talks with Chelsea about his future

Kepa Arrizabalaga will likely leave Chelsea this summer with Newcastle interested but Thomas Tuchel calls for honest conversations to get a deal done

“Then he has to be open with us. For me, nothing needs to change as I like him a lot, and we need strong goalkeepers because it’s a crucial position. But we need to reflect on it in the summer.”

His contract at Stamford Bridge expires in 2025. As a result, Chelsea will likely demand big money if Kepa Arrizabalaga departs this summer.

To that end, reports recently claimed the Blues will be seeking a fee of around £50m. And at that sort of money, it’s a fee probably only Newcastle, of his suitors, would be willing to pay.

Despite his lack of action for Chelsea over the years, Kepa has a Champions League, Europa League, UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup winners medals to his name.

Meanwhile, a row is also brewing at Chelsea over Jorginho’s future, with Tuchel reportedly far from happy at developments.