Thomas Tuchel admitted Kepa Arrizabalaga “tried” to find a way out of Chelsea this summer, though admitted he may have a big role to play when breaking his silence on the aborted exit.
With the summer window now in the rear view mirror, attention has turned to how Chelsea’s new-look squad will attack the Premier League. A host of high profile signings arrived including Wesley Fofana, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Denis Zakaria in the window’s final 24 hours.
However, exits were just as frequent at Stamford Bridge. Indeed, the likes of Emerson Palmieri, Marcos Alonso, Ross Barkley, Billy Gilmour and Michy Batshuayi all left on permanent deals in the final 10 days before the deadline came and went.
One player who survived the cull was back-up goalkeeper, Kepa Arrizabalaga.
The 27-year-old Spaniard is behind Edouard Mendy in the pecking order. That’s something that is far from ideal given the hefty £71.6m he cost in 2018.
That led to talk of a loan exit to Napoli. Indeed, Sky Italia led the way on that front in early August, with their reporting backed up by Fabrizio Romano.
Chelsea were even understood to be willing to pay up to three quarters of Kepa’s salary if he moved to Naples. However, the Serie A side ultimately wound up signing Salvatore Sirigu instead on August 11.
Now, speaking to Chelsea’s website, Blues boss Thomas Tuchel broke his silence on Kepa’s aborted exit.
“[Kepa] tried and checked his options” – Tuchel
The German admitted Kepa did try to find a new club. However, he explained the terms of any and all proposals put forward weren’t satisfactory.
Furthermore, Tuchel also stressed he never actually wanted Kepa to leave. Given Mendy’s early-season struggles that noticeably flared up against West Ham, Kepa may yet be in line for more minutes than he might’ve thought.
If Kepa does get a chance, Tuchel claimed he’s doing all he can behind the scenes to repay the faith.
“He tried and checked his options, which we were aware of,” said Tuchel. “They were not satisfying for him or for us so he stayed and I’m very happy about that.
“I was always very clear directly with him that I would love him to stay and my point of view is that he’s absolutely ready to play.
“It’s on us if we give him the chance or not. But he’s 100 per cent ready with how he behaves and trains.”
Kepa stay far from a disaster
Having a £71.6m bench warmer is far from ideal. However, the Spaniard has often shone when selected in the cup competitions and that will likely continue this season.
What’s more, his contract doesn’t expire until 2025. Given there’s three years left, Chelsea are in no danger of losing an expensive signing for free any time soon.
His future will likely come under the microscope again in the future windows. If Mendy rediscovers his best form and new signing Gabriel Slonina continues to develop at a rapid rate, Kepa’s long-term future will lay away from the capital.
But for the time being, there are worse problems to endure than having Kepa on the bench.