Atletico Madrid may be the best fit for Kepa Arrizabalaga as doubts grow over his Chelsea future, but the Spain No 1 has fallen off the radar in his home country and will not play a part in any swap deal for £110m Jan Oblak
- A return to LaLiga could be Kepa Arrizabalaga’s best route out of Chelsea
- But Atletico Madrid do not see him involved in a deal for No 1 Jan Oblak
- If Atletico sold £110m star Oblak they would need a new goalkeeper
- Kepa might be among the targets, but not the only one and, not as part of a swap
But such is the importance of Jan Oblak to Diego Simeone that Atletico Madrid do not see Kepa’s involvement in any deal, making much of a dent in their £110m asking price for the Slovenian goalkeeper.
Atletico have coped with the departures of both David de Gea and Thibaut Courtois in the past but Oblak is more highly regarded than those two, for his importance not just to the team, but to the club.
Doubts are growing over Kepa Arrizabalaga’s future role as Chelsea’s No 1
Kepa has come under fire for a series of high-profile errors in between the sticks for Chelsea
Oblak signed a new contract at Atletico Madrid in April 2019 keeping him in the Spanish capital until 2023 and raising his release clause to £110m.
Atletico are briefing that that figure is not one they see being reduced by the prospect of Chelsea parceling up Kepa and sending him in the opposite direction as they take Oblak.
If Atletico sold Oblak they would need a new keeper and Kepa might be among the alternatives, but not the only one and, not as part of a swap.
If Kepa does not go to Atletico it is difficult to know where he will go.
His current valuation in Spain would be a long way short of the £71.6m Chelsea paid for him despite his status as Spain keeper and the fact that as recently as last September he was making vital saves that ensured his country’s passage to Euro 2020.
Atletico Madrid would be in need of a new goalkeeper if they were to sell No 1 Jan Oblak
But they do not want to include Chelsea ‘keeper Kepa in any prospective deal with Chelsea
His late save from George Puscas in Spain’s win over Romania, after they had been reduced to 10 men, was one of the stops of the year. Kepa was given his chance by Luis Enrique but there was a always a feeling that Luis Enrique would come down on the side of David De Gea if he had to choose a keeper for a big game.
When Robert Moreno briefly replaced Luis Enrique he made Kepa first choice. Back in charge, Luis Enrique, has been unclear about who he will go with but it will probably be De Gea and he is under pressure to look at other options such as Athletic’s Unai Simon.
Simon’s fine season at Kepa’s former club is a reminder that not only has Kepa slipped off the radar in Spain slightly, but that his old team don’t miss him – having been well served by the 23-year-old this season.
There are still memories among Spain fans of Kepa’s first impact on the international scene for Spain Under-19 level when he won the U-19s Euros in 2015. He was fast-tracked to the Under-21s while still 19. His move to Chelsea seemed fast-tracked too with him barely established as Athletic Bilbao’s No 1.
Kepa’s misfortune at Chelsea has slipped under the radar back in his home country
Kepa embraces Chelsea boss Frank Lampard after his recall to the first-team back in March
His problems at Chelsea have gone somewhat under the radar because they have happened outside LaLiga. But neither have his better games created too much interest.
Valencia are in need of a new keeper with neither Jaume Domenech nor Jasper Cillessen convincing. But they are heading out of European competition for next season and will not have the money to sign Kepa.
Sevilla have qualified for the Champions League and are expected to bring in a new keeper but Granada’s impressive Rui Silva will be a far cheaper option.
Manuel Pellegrini wants a new keeper at his new club Betis, but again the financial reach of the club is likely to fall short of Spain’s No 1.
All that points to Atletico Madrid being the best fit for Kepa. But it would be a deal that would have to happen after, and because of, any Oblak switch, while not being part of what would have to be a world-record transfer.