Quietly, Thomas Tuchel made it his mission to relaunch the career of former Chelsea record holder Kepa Arrizabalaga.

The £ 71million ($ 95million) man, signed from Athletic Club, saved just 53.5% of the shots on target he faced in the 2019-20 season, with an analysis of the expected objectives. [xG] showing he conceded 11 more times than the numbers would predict.

That, along with his poor performance on set pieces, has seen Kepa publicly criticized by pundits, journalists and even his own manager, Frank Lampard.

Additionally, clips have appeared on social media showing teammates calling the Spain international after a hit-or-miss confusion during a game at Liverpool, with Kepa being an international talking point by then.

Signing Edouard Mendy the following summer was almost an emergency option for the Blues, adding an insurance policy to a crucial position on the pitch.

Mendy took his chance after signing from Rennes, ultimately winning the Champions League with a record number of clean sheets for a goalkeeper at an English club.

This led to the recognition of the 29-year-old as one of the best in the world, finishing second behind Gianluigi Donnarumma in the Yashin Trophy at the Ballon d’Or ceremony for the best goalkeeper of 2021.

In the meantime, Kepa has been introduced to the transfer market, but there have been no takers for him on a permanent basis or on loan due to the exceptional cost of his salary and potential transfer fees.

Edouard Mendy Chelsea GFX

Mendy’s positive performances have continued under Thomas Tuchel since his arrival, but the management of the German squad has been superior to that of his predecessor Lampard.

Behind the scenes, Tuchel masterfully rekindled Kepa’s confidence through his work with the entire goalkeeping department.

Noting that there is talent in the man who still owns Chelsea’s No.1 shirt, he discovered through careful analysis of the data that Kepa is his best goalkeeper on penalties.

This saw the 27-year-old be used as a substitute in the UEFA Super Cup, coming in at the last minute to win the heroic European curtain raiser against Villarreal in August.

He went on to have two more victories on penalties to overtake Petr Cech with the most saves in such situations in Chelsea history.

“I feel more relaxed in everything now. I feel that everything is going the right way and confident. I felt my confidence was high again,” Kepa said after Chelsea’s penalty shootout win over Southampton in October, a victory that marked until Wednesday’s Carabao Cup quarter-finals meeting with Brentford.

Along with that, in the cup matches, Kepa has been calm and made a slew of big saves as Tuchel tries to rest the players for the Premier League and Champions League fixtures.

In the 2-0 win at Brentford, N’Golo Kante’s magical moment helped find the breakthrough that led to Pontus Jansson’s own goal.

Christian Pulisic went on to win a penalty which Jorginho later converted, but it was Kepa who had to make several big saves against Thomas Frank’s men as the game went goalless as the home side had their moments against a Chelsea which included three teenage debutants.

Kepa Arrizabalaga Chelsea Thomas Tuchel GFX

And Kepa has now proven in a series of matches that he deserves a bigger run in the team.

“I am super impressed with Kepa.” Tuchel said to the question of GOAL. “It’s no longer a surprise because he’s in the mindset as a person, character and athlete where he delivers just for us because he does what he does best.

“That’s what he shows every day in training and that’s why he gets the award. I’m absolutely sure that’s why he has these kinds of performances.

“I’m super happy, we need him in this kind of form. The goalkeepers are a solid squad. Kepa is an integral part of it and Kepa was a big factor today, especially in the first half.”

Fortunately, the time may have come for Kepa, with Mendy scheduled for a month at the Africa Cup of Nations with Senegal.

He can go and enjoy a competition he desperately wants to win, knowing that Chelsea are in good hands with Kepa taking his place.

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