Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalga has insisted that he feels ready to step in for Africa Cup of Nations-bound Edouard Mendy.
Kepa arrived as the Blues’ most expensive signing in the summer of 2018. However, he has not enjoyed the smoothest ride at Stamford Bridge. Amid doubts over his form, Chelsea brought in Mendy in 2020.
The Senegal international has since proved a commanding first choice, knocking Kepa down the pecking order.
However, Mendy will miss a portion of Chelsea’s season in the winter to travel to the Africa Cup of Nations. The 29-year-old will join up with fellow countryman Sadio Mane, of Liverpool.
Despite Kepa’s lack of action, he has proved boss Thomas Tuchel’s favoured option for penalties. Indeed, he replaced Mendy for the UEFA Super Cup triumph over Villarreal on spot-kicks.
He was also in goal for Wednesday’s Carabao Cup penalties win over Southampton. As such, he has insisted that he feels ready to take over from Mendy on a more regular basis.
“Well, it’s two months away. Of course we know it can happen and I will be ready but we have a lot of games until we start thinking about that,” the Spaniard told the Evening Standard.
“Let’s go step by step and we’ll see what happens. If he goes to the African Cup, all the best and I’ll be ready.
“But it’s still a long way to arrive at that point.”
Tuchel revealed after the Super Cup win over Villarreal that Chelsea’s analysts convinced him over Kepa’s ability at saving penalties.
“I’ve always said I try to help the team in the best way but I do feel really good at penalties,” the goalkeeper said.
“I feel confident. It’s a bit of luck, a bit of work, a bit of everything but I feel really good.”
Kepa confident despite Chelsea role
Kepa, whose previous game before the win over Southampton was also in the Carabao Cup, admitted that it is “not so easy to sometimes step in”.
However, he insisted that he feels the “confidence” Tuchel gives him.
The quarter-final tie is likely the next time Kepa will play for Chelsea.
“December and January here is so busy, a lot of games but we have the squad with big quality to play every game with a strong team,” he said.
“We’re ready to arrive to a final. Let’s go step by step, but of course that’s in our mind.”
Still, Chelsea’s next task is a Premier League encounter with Newcastle.