Kepa set for January loan to Lazio
Kepa Arrizabalaga has made just four appearances for Chelsea so far in the 2021/22 season and the Spaniard could move to Lazio on loan in search of more playing time. Despite saying last season that he had never thought about leaving Stamford Bridge, the fact that Edouard Mendy is clearly the undisputed starter could force a rethink.
According to The Sun, that rethink could see Kepa move to Lazio to join up with former coach Maurizio Sarri. Although the pair had a famous confrontation in the 2019 League Cup final, when the Spaniard refused to be substituted off, Sarri is believed to be keen on the idea of acquiring the shot-stopper in January.
Keeper Kepa. 👊 pic.twitter.com/S50YaoVuGo— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) November 26, 2021
Lazio already have a Spanish goalkeeper in Pepe Reina, who has played the most minutes so far of their ‘keepers this season, making 13 appearances. But, Thomas Strakosha has played between the posts in all five of the Rome club’s Europa League matches so far.
Sarri would welcome an upgrade at the position and the move could be sanctioned before the end of the winter window.
How Mendy and AFCON might delay Kepa’s transfer
While Chelsea are believed to be willing to let Kepa go out on loan midway through the season, there is a problem for the Blues as Edouard Mendy will be going away to the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations with Senegal. That tournament runs from January 9th to February 6th, so Kepa could be required for most of January and even beyond.
As such, a January loan move for Kepa, whether to Lazio or elsewhere, might not be sanctioned until the end of the January window. Even if the transfer is agreed earlier, Kepa might have to stay until the final week of January, before moving on in a deal that suits all parties.
If Senegal do make it deep into the tournament, that could then open up an opportunity for third-choice goalkeeper Marcus Bettinelli to earn some minutes for Thomas Tuchel’s side.