Kepa Arrizabalaga has dismissed the weight of expectation accompanying his world record transfer fee for a goalkeeper while also playing down the perceived pressure in replacing Thibaut Courtois.
The 24-year-old Spaniard became one of the earliest arrivals at Chelsea upon Maurizio Sarri’s appointment as manager, arriving from Athletic Bilbao upon the Blues triggering his £71.6 million release clause. Kepa landed in west London as the replacement for Courtois, who was heading the opposite direction to Spain with Real Madrid.
Despite having reached the English shores just this summer, Kepa has gone through a largely successful start in between the sticks for the Blues, starting every league game and keeping eight clean sheets in the process. Given his current standing as the world’s most expensive goalkeeper, it is understandable that many expect a lot more from the Spain international yet Kepa stated that he is not at all bothered about the situation.
“Obviously the price was very high – £71m is a lot of money,” said the Chelsea goalkeeper. “I’m aware of this but given the transfer market situation and how things are going, it is normal so I don’t need to focus on the value of the transfer.
“I do need to focus on playing my football and what’s happening on the pitch rather than off it. I want to be myself and not think about it. I’m here now playing for Chelsea. I chose to leave my home at Athletic Bilbao and it was an important step in my career.”
The signing of Kepa saw the west Londoners hire a long-term replacement for Courtois, who was instrumental in the Blues’ two most recent league titles, an FA Cup and a League Cup and while his beginning to his Chelsea career can be considered respectable, Sarri believes the Spaniard still needs to improve in order to reach Courtois’ level. Yet when Kepa was asked about the huge responsibility of replacing the Belgian, the 24-year-old has also dismissed such notions, stating that he is only focused on himself.
“I wouldn’t call it pressure, I would just say it is how the transfer market goes. He went and I came in and I’m not one to focus on the comings and goings,” added Kepa. “I’m focused on myself and there is a great opportunity for me to come here. I wanted to take advantage of this and enjoy my football and look forward and not back.
“I’m happy here both on a personal and a team level and I’m happy here in London. Looking towards the future excites me with the possibilities we have to improve and I’m excited about what the future might bring.”