Michael Ballack believes Kepa Arrizabalaga’s teammates should have done more to usher him off the pitch after the Chelsea goalkeeper’s refusal to do so during Sunday’s League Cup final.
Minutes before the match went to a penalty shootout, the Spaniard, who was treated for an injury on the pitch, refused to be subbed off with Willy Caballero ready to take his place, leaving Maurizio Sarri livid on the touchline. The Blues then went on to lose via penalties.
Sarri and Kepa has since played down the incident, calling it a misunderstanding, but former Chelsea midfielder Ballack reckons the goalkeeper’s teammates should have exerted more effort in convincing the Spaniard to follow the ex-Napoli manager’s instructions at the time. During the incident, only David Luiz, a senior player in the squad, attempted to intervene although his effort went in vain.
“It was surprise, I’ve never seen anything like that before,” said the former German international. “When your number is shown, you must respect the manager’s decision.
“I was a bit surprised by the reaction of the team. Normally if a team-mate is not leaving the pitch and is frustrated for a certain reason, and obviously this was a really important reason to make a quick sub just before the penalties, you go over and you try to speak with him to get him to follow the instructions.
“But David (Luiz), I don’t [know] what he was saying to him, but he’s a key player in that team and he’s a leader, so it surprises me.”
“It was a not a good picture for Chelsea. The board has to say something because it’s really, really important the players respect the coach and respect each other and something shouldn’t happen like that.
“It was a shame, because they played a good game against a really strong team and they deserved something, but now we’re all talking about something like this.”