Fresh start for Kepa Arrizabalaga at Chelsea under new boss Thomas Tuchel

Nick Purewal, PA
·3-min read

Thomas Tuchel has moved to hand embattled goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga a “new start” at Chelsea.

New manager Tuchel will hand Spaniard Kepa a start in Thursday’s FA Cup fifth-round trip to Barnsley.

The £72million recruit has failed to live up to that record price tag for a keeper in 2018, and has fallen behind summer signing Edouard Mendy in Chelsea’s pecking order.

Tuchel has continued with Mendy as first choice after replacing Frank Lampard at Stamford Bridge, but has now insisted Kepa can still rebuild his career in west London.

Thomas Tuchel celebrates a win
Thomas Tuchel, pictured, is determined to give Kepa Arrizabalaga a fresh start at Chelsea (Kirsty Wrigglesworth/PA)

“It’s very important for me to say this: he doesn’t have to overachieve,” said Tuchel.

“I want him to play a normal match tomorrow. He does not have to show me or anybody else tomorrow he is ready to be Spain’s number one in the summer.

“He just has to show his quality. Not more or less. So we have to manage expectations because I don’t expect him to score and keep a clean sheet.

“I just want him to help us with his quality and for him to give a solid performance to help the team. He has big goals to achieve and big personal ambition. But this is normal; it’s why he’s here.

“No goalkeeper wants to sit on the bench, I understand that. And none of my guys want to travel tomorrow to sit on the bench.

“The situation for Kepa is the situation he finds right now. We didn’t make a change in the first games and Edou was strong in the moment.

“From the outside he had maybe some difficulties on the sporting side, and maybe also the circumstances of his transfer were a little bit on his shoulders. That was the impression from outside.

“From inside I see a nice guy, I see a nice personality, an open personality, a hard-working guy, with obviously a lot of quality.

“So the good thing for him is that we start new, it’s a new start for him. I don’t have a history with him and I hope there will be no difficulties, because I don’t see them coming.

“He’s a clear guy, an open guy. He does everything to impress in training. Kepa has a chance tomorrow and I hope he can show what he shows in training.

“No matter if we bought them for crazy money, if they come through the academy, or they were a free agent, it is our job to push every player to the limit; this is what counts.

“It is our job to push Kepa to the limit, to trust him and to build up his strengths. We rely on him and we need three strong goalkeepers to fulfil our goals.”

Scotland Under-21 international Billy Gilmour is yet to feature under Tuchel, but should be handed his first chance at Barnsley.

Bernardo Silva shields the ball from Billy Gilmour
Billy Gilmour, right, should have his first chance to impress under Tuchel at Oakwell (Ian Walton/PA)

Tuchel continues to insist he has been greatly impressed by Gilmour in training, but conceded that he remains behind N’Golo Kante, Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic in his midfield ranks.

“Right now he is one of four players for central midfield, with Kovacic, Jorginho and N’Golo Kante,” said Tuchel.

“That makes it not easy for Billy to find his place, but he is the number four right now in my head, and to be the number four out of two positions is a pretty good start for Billy.

“I wanted him absolutely to stay because he has a big impact in training games and his quality is obvious.

“We are happy to have him and are absolutely ready to push him and help him on his way.”