Newcastle United are reportedly interested in signing £50 million-rated Spanish shot-stopper Kepa Arrizabalaga from Chelsea.
According to Daily Star, Newcastle United are set to rival a host of La Liga clubs in the race to sign Chelsea’s second-choice goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga should they stay up this summer. The Blues are understood to be keen on cashing in on their asset while his worth is considerably higher than in the past.
Chelsea splashed a whopping £72 million to secure Kepa from Athletic Bilbao in 2018 to replace Real Madrid-bound Thibaut Courtois. The figure still stands as a record fee paid for a goalkeeper. He was expected to have a bright future at the top level.
However, the move backfired spectacularly, as the former Athletic Bilbao star had a dreadful debut season in England, making several defensive blunders and failing to live up to his potential and hype. His second season was an even bigger disaster, with his save percentage dropping as low as 54.5% – the worst save percentage of any starting goalkeeper in Premier League.
Chelsea then again dipped into the market to solve their problem and brought Edouard Mendy in 2020. The Senegalese international quickly cemented himself as the undisputed No. 1 between the sticks for the Blues. As a result, Kepa has been confined to cup appearances and rare opportunities when Mendy is injured or away on international duty.
However, the Spaniard has thrived in his reduced role as an understudy to Mendy and has repaid Thomas Tuchel’s faith in him by performing admirably in crucial knockout games across the UEFA Super Cup, FIFA Club World Cup, and the Carabao Cup.
Still, Mendy’s rapid rise to prominence as Champions League and AFCON winner means the former Rennes custodian has emerged as one of the world’s best shot-stoppers and looks to be the ideal man for the Blues for years to come. And keeping two quality and arguably top-tier goalkeepers under the same shed is unsustainable in the long run for the Blues.
Offloading Kepa at the end of the season appears to be the ultimate solution and could well be a step in the right direction for both parties. Chelsea could move on and cut their losses, while the player might make a better case for a spot in Luis Enrique’s Spain squad for the 2022 World Cup by performing as a regular starter elsewhere.
Despite his inconsistencies, Kepa has no shortage of suitors on the continent, with several La Liga clubs, including Atletico Madrid, interested in his services. Now, cash-rich Newcastle have joined the bandwagon even though Eddie Howe rates current shot-stopper Martin Dubravka highly.
The Magpies took another major stride towards Premier League safety with a 2-0 win at Brentford on Saturday and appear to have already started planning for the summer window. Kepa could be a decent signing should he realise his full potential, but he is not someone who inspires the backline and commands his box, and there are better alternatives out in the market for a reasonable price.
The 27-year-old’s contract with Chelsea runs till the summer of 2025, and the Blues want £50 million for their star but would consider a loan deal with an obligation to buy. Whether Newcastle do launch a shock summer swoop for the Spanish keeper remains to be seen.