By 90Min
August 09, 2018

Chelsea fans didn't have dismay for too long over a departing Thibaut Courtois, as their club quickly broke a world record fee for a goalkeeper. Finding their replacement in 23-year-old Kepa Arrizabalaga from Athletic Bilbao


In truth, a lot of onlookers barely knew the name of the keeper who would quickly rise to prominence as Chelsea's most expensive acquisition. The Spanish understudy for David De Gea at the World Cup has risen to prominence in La Liga, where he nearly earned himself a move to  Real Madrid, the ultimate destination for the Blues former number one. 

Though when you look further into the deal, its quick to realize that a signing, although unexpected - might turn out to be one the key moments in Maurizio Sarri's time in west London. 


Ironically known as 'Kepa', the Spanish shot-stopper has spent his entire career at Bilbao, also starring as a European Champion in Spain's Under-19 side in 2012. His instantly sharable flying saves and quick reflexes will jump out in the highlight reels, but it is the ability with his feet that can have a massive impact. 

Anyone who gazed over Chelsea's defeat to Manchester City in the Community Shield would've noticed Willy Caballero's inability to be an effective sweeper from the back, which is what Sarri requires in his system. 

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Pepe Reina played that role brilliantly in Sarri's time at Napoli and with his persistence for an expansive style, a keeper whose uncomfortable with the ball at his feet simply won't do. 


Arrizabalaga has been described as a "keeper for the future" and that's what the new Chelsea boss has got with his new signing. 


There is no denying Courtois quality, which will be missed. Developing into one of the top keepers in world football, the Belgian made crucial saves in both of Chelsea's Premier League triumphs. However, when it comes to the style of player, The Belgian was developed under a philosophy opposed to his replacement. 

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Since moving from Genk, Courtois has played under Diego Simone, Jose Mourinho, and Antonio Conte. Three managers whose bread and butter is counter-attacking football. Whilst for Arrizabalaga, from a young age in a Spanish 'tiki-taka' philosophy, he has been used to playing out from the back. 


Its been widely noted, the change in style of play at Chelsea is going to bring some growing pains. But having a player who is tailor-made for a new manager can only be a positive in his maiden season. Kepa's new boss has the opportunity to still mold a keeper in his vision, rather than one that has already become accustomed to a set method of play.  


A seven-year contract gives Chelsea and Sarri, the breathing room to develop a burgeoning talent. If Kepa proves a fruitful addition and thrives in 'Sarrismo', the extortionate fee will quickly be a number on a spreadsheet rather than a stick to beat the London club with.

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HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)