Chelsea will prioritise the signing of a new goalkeeper once a deal is finalised for Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Kai Havertz, with sources telling ESPN that manager Frank Lampard has lost patience with No.1 Kepa Arrizabalaga.
Kepa, who became the world’s most expensive goalkeeper when he completed a £71.6 million transfer from Athletic Bilbao in August 2018, has conceded 47 goals in 33 Premier League appearances for Chelsea this season and will equal the record set by Dmitri Kharine of most goals conceded in a season by a Stamford Bridge keeper if he fails to keep a clean sheet in Sunday’s final-day clash against Wolves.
With former Russia No.1 Kharine setting his unenviable milestone during a 42-game season in 1993-94 — he made 40 league appearances — Kepa already has posted the worst statistical record of any Chelsea keeper during the Premier League era.
Sources have told ESPN that Lampard’s lack of confidence dates to the first half of this season because of concerns over Kepa’s ability to command his penalty area and dominate when the ball is in the air.
He was dropped in favour of former Manchester City keeper Willy Caballero in February for four league games and the Champions League defeat against Bayern Munich, but Lampard restored him to the lineup for league games since the season restarted last month.
Chelsea’s defensive shortcomings, combined with Kepa’s goalkeeping weaknesses, have seen the team concede 11 goals in their last four league games and Lampard is determined to rectify the problem by finding a new keeper.
Dean Henderson, on loan at Sheffield United from Manchester United, is attracting interest from Chelsea, but sources have said that Lampard wants a more proven and experienced option for Kepa, whose transfer fee makes it almost impossible for Chelsea to recover their investment by selling the Spain international this summer. — Mark Ogden