Frank Lampard has said he is not under pressure from Chelsea’s board to sell Kepa Arrizabalaga after dropping the £71.6m goalkeeper.
Arrizabalaga, who will be handed a rare start when Chelsea host Krasnodar in the Champions League on Tuesday evening, has failed to justify his price tag since joining from Athletic Bilbao in 2018 and faces an uncertain future after losing his place to Édouard Mendy. Lampard lost faith with the Spaniard following a string of costly errors and has seen his side’s defensive record improve since the arrival of Mendy, who has not taken long to establish himself following his £22m move from Rennes.
Yet although Arrizabalaga has not played since struggling when Chelsea drew 3-3 with Southampton in October, Lampard does not feel that his bosses are worried about having such an expensive player on the bench. “There’s no pressure,” Chelsea’s manager said. “The pressure is to win games and I have to do the right thing to win games, and Mendy has made himself a permanent fixture at this point.
“The pressure to win games means I pick people in form – goalkeeper, striker, winger, whoever. At the same time it’s obviously an opportunity to give Edu a rest and give Kepa a game. He deserves it.”
The stakes will be low against Krasnodar given that Chelsea have already qualified for the last 16 and secured first place in Group E after thrashing Sevilla last week. Lampard will hope that Arrizabalaga holds his nerve. “It’s about attitude and how you approach the game,” he said. “The position of goalkeeper means they have to be patient when they are not starting games. With Edu’s form he has been a very good pick for me. But this is a game for Kepa who is training brilliantly well. I have no qualms about putting him in.”
Lampard added that he is not concerned about Timo Werner going six games without a goal for club and country. “He’s come into this league and made a big impact,” said the manager. “Timo’s going to be a huge player for this club.”
Chelsea have lost Callum Hudson-Odoi and Hakim Ziyech to hamstring injuries but Billy Gilmour is set to make his first start of the season after recovering from a long-term knee injury. The 19-year-old midfielder is determined to take his chance after regaining fitness and Lampard indicated that he is unlikely to let him leave on loan in January.
“I don’t want to have that conversation until the window opens,” Lampard said. “I value him a lot in this squad. You say we have a lot of options in midfield, but that can quickly change as we’ve seen with the winger situation. Hakim gets injured at the weekend, Callum gets injured yesterday and the numbers are not so great.”