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15th Mar 2021

Kepa dropped from Spain squad in favour of Robert Sanchez

Danny Jones

The world-record fee keeper’s career has gone from bad to worse, after being dropped at Chelsea and now Spain

At this point, we just feel bad for Kepa Arrizabalaga. The once highly-rated Spanish keeper didn’t get off to that bad a start at Chelsea, but within a season he seemed to go from young potential to an already seasoned gaff-man.

After having being dropped by former Chelsea managers, Maurizio Sarri and Frank Lampard, there’s now, seemingly, no way back in. With Thomas Tuchel at the helm and Edouard Mendy now the firm first-choice (not to mention the stats to back it up), his international place was all he had going for him. Queue salt in wound…

The Spanish national team announced their squad for the Qatar 2022 World Cup Qualifiers and you don’t really need Twitter to translate this one for you:

As you can see, Kepa is nowhere to be found among the three goalkeepers named. What is perhaps a more damning indictment is that David de Gea, though still a regular in national squads, has had yet another season littered with many mistakes and in many more appearances than his younger counterpart.

And whilst the other two keepers aren’t bad at all, they aren’t exactly world-beaters either. 23-year-old Unai Simón has kept six clean sheets to help Bilbao to 11th place in the La Liga table – solid but hardly favoured first choice.

Robert Sánchez notched the same and did manage to take the number one spot at Brighton, but they still linger just above the relegation zone. The young Spaniard previously spent time at Rochdale and Forest Green Rovers. Stark contrast.

Of course, these two are more squad options than anything else and even with questions over his form, de Gea is likely to start most, if not all games. Furthermore, it’s not entirely Kepa’s fault: he’s only made eight appearances this seasons across all competitions – but then again, they rarely end without another clanger.

It’s not even just the outright individual errors that he makes though. This stat comes after one of his last appearances against Luton in the FA Cup, when he made yet another mistake:

Stats may not always tell the whole story but they don’t lie. That is a very low percentage for an energetic young keeper whose best attribute was once believed to be his reflex saves. Unfortunately, that just isn’t a risk worth taking when you need to ensure World Cup qualification.