Football News

Chelsea urged to “take a serious look” at Dubravka as potential Kepa replacement

By Harry Edwards

Published: 19:46, 3 February 2020

Chelsea have been urged to “take a serious look” at Newcastle United goalkeeper Martin Dubravka by Garth Crooks.

In 2018, the Blues lost Thibaut Courtois to Real Madrid and signed Kepa Arrizabalaga from Athletic Bilbao as his replacement – triggering the Spaniard’s £71.6m release clause and making him the most expensive goalkeeper in the world.

Arrizabalaga’s first season in London saw him play a key role in Chelsea’s Europa League victory, saving two penalties in the semi-final against Eintracht Frankfurt. He also kept 14 clean sheets in the Premier League, only bettered by Alisson (21) and Ederson (20).

However, Arrizabalaga also caught criticism for refusing to be substituted in the Carabao Cup final which Chelsea would go on to lose on penalties.

This season has not been as good for Arrizabalaga, who has proven to be too easy to beat by opposition players. Of goalkeepers in the Premier League to have played at least 1,000 minutes, Arrizabalaga has the lowest save percentage (55.56%) and has averaged just 1.28 saves per goal conceded – letting in 32 so far.

His abilities were most recently questioned in Chelsea’s 2-2 draw with Arsenal, as he was beaten one-on-one by Gabriel Martinelli before allowing Hector Bellerin’s effort from outside the area go past him.

After sitting out of the FA Cup fourth round win over Hull City, Arrizabalaga was also left on the bench for Chelsea’s 2-2 draw against Leicester City – with Willy Caballero replacing him.

Before the game, Lampard said: “It’s a decision that I make and I think with goalkeepers it’s a decision you don’t take lightly because of what it means.

“They are very close and they work hard together each day but it’s one that I felt to make for this game.

“I trust in Willy he trains brilliantly, he’s a great professional. I trust them both but it’s the decision for today.”

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But Caballero did not cover himself in glory either, chasing the ball to the edge of his area before being caught out of position for Leicester’s second.

And Crooks believes Chelsea need to sign a new goalkeeper if they are to keep challenging for the top four, picking Newcastle’s Dubravka as a potential replacement.

“Chelsea got away with this result having been let down, not on one occasion but two by Willy Caballero in the Chelsea goal,” he wrote for BBC Sport, while praising Antonio Rudiger’s two-goal performance.

“The Blues have a keeper problem having already dropped Kepa Arrizabalaga. Fortunately Antonio Rudiger was on hand to rescue Chelsea and Caballero from defeat.

“Rudiger’s second goal was one of the best headed goals I’ve seen this season. Meanwhile the London club have gone from having Petr Cech and Thibaut Courtois – two world-class goalkeepers – to Kepa and Caballero, who both look like they’ve only recently been introduced to the game.

“If Chelsea are serious about a top-four place they need to get a top-class goalkeeper. They should take a serious look at Newcastle’s Martin Dubravka.”

Dubravka, 31, has been one of Newcastle’s best players this season and is one of the reasons they remain outside the relegation zone.

The Slovakian has made 103 saves in the Premier League so far, more than any other goalkeeper in the division and has a save percentage of 73.91% – with only four goalkeepers managing better. Dubravka has also kept seven clean sheets, again a number only bettered by a handful of goalkeepers.