MADRID (Reuters) - Spain coach Luis Enrique has encouraged goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga to rise to the challenge of being usurped as Chelsea’s number one and told him to prove his talent and ability for the national team.
Kepa became the world’s most expensive goalkeeper when he switched from Athletic Bilbao to Chelsea in 2018 for 71 million pounds but he has struggled to adapt to English football and has recently been dropped by coach Frank Lampard.
Chelsea signed Senegalese goalkeeper Edouard Mendy for around 22 million pounds last month to compete with Kepa, who was dropped after giving away a goal in his side’s first Premier League match of the season against Brighton & Hove Albion and after a 2-0 defeat to Liverpool.
Kepa also lost his place in the Spain team to David de Gea last month but is expected to start in Wednesday’s friendly against Portugal, ahead of his side’s UEFA Nations League fixtures against Switzerland and Ukraine.
“Kepa is not in a nice situation, but it is not the end of the world,” Luis Enrique told a news conference on Tuesday.
“It’s the ideal moment for him to rise again, for us to see what Kepa is made of. What he is going through at Chelsea now is something that happens to all players throughout their careers.”
Kepa admitted he has enjoyed better moments in his career but said he was not suffering from any lack of confidence and had no immediate plans to leave Chelsea.
“I’m feeling good, strong and confident. Perhaps it’s not the situation I dreamed of or hoped for, but we all have to go through moments like this. I’m confident I can turn things around and am willing to work hard to do that,” he said.
“Every player wants to play and so do I, but right now I’m focusing on each day and right now that means focusing on the Spain team.
“It’s very hard in football to think about the medium or long term. Right now I’m only thinking about these three games with Spain.”
Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Hugh Lawson
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.