Opinion: Analysing the growing popularity of the vintage goalkeeper, Kepa Arrizabalaga
.Following the departure of Thibaut Courtois from Chelsea, The Blues decided that youth was a crucial component for the club's next number one goalkeeper. Thus, Chelsea signed 23-year-old Kepa Arrizabalaga for £72 million, which is a world record fee for a shot-stopper. However, more Premier League clubs decided to recruit vastly experienced goalkeepers in their late 30s before the commencement of the 2018/19 season.
Manchester United, Watford and even Chelsea were the three clubs to adopt the latter approach. The Red Devils signed a 35-year-old Lee Grant; Watford purchased a 35-year-old Ben Foster; and, besides the signing of Arrizabalaga, Chelsea secured the signature of a 38-year-old Rob Green.
One of the main reasons for clubs opting to sign a veteran goalkeeper is that he can share his vast experience with the young players and potentially take up a coaching role at the club in the future. For instance, the experience of Rob Green will be invaluable to Chelsea. He has won 12 England caps and played at the 2010 World Cup. And this season at Chelsea will be his 20th as a professional after spells at Norwich, West Ham, QPR, Leeds and Huddersfield.
Thus, he can share all his experience with his fellow Chelsea teammates - particularly the club's young goalkeepers in the academy - and perhaps eventually become a coach for the Blues. This is not a new notion in football - Manchester City, for example, signed Richard Wright in 2012 but he never played for the club and has since moved into a coaching position with City.
Moreover, should Watford go deep into one of the cup competitions, Foster understands how to perform in nerve-wracking once off-encounters - evidenced by the fact that he was named 'Man of the Match' for keeping a clean sheet and then saving Jamie O'Hara's penalty in Manchester United's 2009 League Cup final penalty-shoot-out win over Tottenham Hotspur.
Another explanation for this sudden popularity of the veteran goalkeeper is that they may be 'sentimental signings'. The management team of these three clubs may want to witness a goalkeeper, who has given his utmost best for clubs at the lower end of the table for plentiful years, possibly win some silverware before he hangs up his gloves
This explanation was echoed by Lee Grant's former teammate at Stoke City, Peter Crouch. Crouch, in his column for the Daily Mail, said that Grant "is different class and he deserves to be at a club that will be expecting to challenge for honours.”
Despite being in the twilight of their careers; Grant, Foster and Green will all be eager to repay their new clubs for signing them by demonstrating their reliability and using their vast experience whenever called upon.