3 potential replacements for Kepa Arrizabalaga at Chelsea | Premier League 2019-20
- Chelsea keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga is coming under fire for his mistakes - so could the Spaniard be replaced by one of these 3 shot stoppers?
After spending a world record €80m to bring Kepa Arrizabalaga to Stamford Bridge in the summer of 2018, it seems almost inconceivable that the Blues could be willing to part ways with the Spanish keeper just two years later, but after a series of almost unforgivable gaffes, it could well happen. Frank Lampard has outright stated that Kepa must improve, while a report in the Telegraph claims that the Spaniard has four months to convince his boss – or face being replaced. And there’s definitely a lot of improvement to be made, given Kepa currently has the worst save percentage of any Premier League goalkeeper this season.
But should Chelsea decide to replace him, who could they go for? Perhaps one of the following 3 keepers would fit the bill.
1. Nick Pope
Chelsea have already been linked with a move for Burnley goalkeeper Nick Pope, and the current England #2 could well be a decent choice for Frank Lampard. Pope has been established as the Clarets’ first choice since an injury sidelined Tom Heaton during the 2017-18 season, and over the period that’s followed he’s become one of the Premier League’s most reliable shot-stoppers.
At 27 years old, Pope is older than Kepa, but he’s still very young for a goalkeeper, and assuming he keeps himself in shape, he could remain at the top level for the best part of another decade yet. More to the point, he’s got the kind of statistics that could definitely have Lampard impressed.
In the same amount of games, not only has Pope kept more clean sheets than Kepa – 8 for the Burnley man compared to 5 for the Spaniard – but he’s also made more saves – including one penalty – and scores higher when it comes to playing accurate long balls, too.
Pope is contracted with the Clarets until 2023 – meaning the Blues would probably have to part with a large chunk of money to bring him to Stamford Bridge – but if Chelsea are willing to replace a man who cost them €80m, then that kind of thing likely doesn’t matter too much.
#2 Gianluigi Donnarumma
One of the world’s most highly-rated goalkeepers, Gianluigi Donnarumma has been AC Milan’s #1 since the 2015-16 season, which makes it even more shocking that he’s still only 20 years old. That alone would make the Italian an attractive prospect for any prospective buyer, but it’s not just his young age that makes Donnarumma stand out.
The Milan keeper has all of the physical tools needed by a top goalkeeper; he stands at a towering 6’5”, and this length and reach combined with his natural agility and reflexes mean he’s able to reach shots that some other keepers wouldn’t be able to. He’s also renowned for his decision-making, as well as his ability when facing penalties.
Thus far this season, Donnarumma has played 19 times for Milan – and in those games he’s made a total of 59 saves, 18 more than Kepa, who has also played 5 more games than the Italian. His passing success rate isn’t quite as high as the Chelsea man’s – 70.3% compared to 78.4% - but then the stats also show that Donnarumma plays far more long balls per game than his Spanish counterpart.
More interestingly, the Italian #1 is also only contracted at the San Siro until the summer of 2021, and while Milan have been reportedly looking to offer him a new deal, if he doesn’t want to stay then a prospective buyer like Chelsea wouldn’t have to part with such a huge fee to bring him in.
A move for Donnarumma would actually be similar to the Blues’ move for Kepa in 2018 – moving for a keeper with a ton of potential rather than someone proven – but judging by his career so far it could be a risk that makes sense.
#3 Andre Onana
A product of Barcelona’s famed La Masia academy, Cameroon’s Andre Onana has become one of the world’s most highly-rated goalkeepers since he emerged as Ajax’s #1 in 2016-17, and in 2018-19 he was a key part of the Dutch side’s run to the Champions League semi-finals, with his acrobatic saves keeping his team in more than one game.
Just 23 years old, Onana is still young for a goalkeeper, but he’s already got years of experience behind him having played 3 and a half full seasons for Ajax, and he also has nearly 30 appearances in the Champions League, too. Somewhat erratic in his early days, Onana is now extremely reliable, with one of his biggest strengths being in one-on-one situations.
So how do his stats look? In 19 games thus far this season Onana has made 35 saves – averaging 1.9 per game compared to Kepa’s 1.7 – and while he hasn’t completed as many passes as the Spaniard, he does have a superior pass success rate of just under 80%.
Most interestingly, Onana is only contracted with Ajax until 2022 – and he stated as recently as November 2019 that he’d be interested in a move to the Premier League at some point in his career. Could that be coming soon? The Cameroonian would surely have impressed Frank Lampard with his performances against the Blues this season – so it could be smart for them to attempt to bring him to Stamford Bridge.
Published 25 Jan 2020, 03:29 IST