There’s a clear new starting goalkeeper for the Spanish National Team.
After three straight starts, Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga has taken the mantle of Spain’s No. 1 goalkeeper from Manchester United’s David De Gea. According to Spanish publication Marca, the decision likely came from both assistant and interim coach Robert Moreno and Spain head coach Luis Enrique, through mobile correspondence over the past few weeks.
[ MORE: Premier League stats ]
Kepa started at the Faroe Islands in a 4-1 win last Friday for Spain on the road and he’s followed that with a start at home against Sweden. Kepa had made his first start in this run in a 2-0 win at Malta. All three matches have been for Euro 2020 qualification.
The move away from de Gea comes after a number of factors. De Gea has had, by all accounts, a rough season with Man United, especially as the team struggled through the last two months of the Premier League season. In April alone, his three errors in four games cost his team victories, and were so out of character compared with how he had played in the past. It’s as if all the pressure he had absorbed over the years had finally caused the dam to break.
At the same time, de Gea was in goal as Spain finished second in their UEFA Nations League group in 2018, including defeats to both England and Croatia.
At the same time, Kepa has had a very strong season in his first campaign at Chelsea, leading the side to third place in the league and stepping into goal for the UEFA Europa League final. It’s a deserved promotion for Kepa, even if it’s a tough demotion for de Gea.
The Man United goalkeeper, at 28-years old, could still have a future at the national team level. However, he’ll have to be happy to play second fiddle yet again after three years as the Spain No. 1.
After all that, the insubordination, the scandal playing out worldwide on traditional media and social media, Kepa Arrizabalaga will only pay one week’s wages as punishment.
That’s what Chelsea announced on Monday evening, stating that both Kepa and manager Maurizio Sarri had spoken with one another and cleared the air. Chelsea stated that the money will be donated to the Chelsea Foundation. According to the Telegraph’s contract details, Kepa will give up around $250,000 in his one week’s wages.
[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]
Both Kepa and Sarri released statements.
“I was very happy to play in my first Cup Final for Chelsea yesterday and very proud of the team performance. I have thought a lot more about yesterday’s events. Although there was a misunderstanding, on reflection, I made a big mistake with how I handled the situation. I wanted to take the time today to apologise fully and in person to the coach, to Willy, my team-mates and to the club. I have done this and now I want to offer the same apology to the fans. I will learn from this episode and will accept any punishment or discipline the club decides is appropriate.”
“Kepa and I have spoken about the incident. It was a good conversation. There was a misunderstanding yesterday but he realizes he made a big mistake in the way he reacted. He has apologized to me, his team-mates and the club. It is up to the club if they want to discipline him according to the club rules, but for me this matter is now closed. The team performance as a whole was extremely positive and it is a shame to see how this incident has overshadowed our efforts in what was a very competitive Cup Final. Everyone’s focus is now on the next game and we must all now put this behind us.”
Sarri has a huge decision to make in two days time. With Chelsea playing a massive London derby against Tottenham, does the Italian manager risk starting Kepa again, or will he punish Kepa further and start Willy Caballero.