Kepa Arrizabalaga Revuelta (Basque: [kepa aris̻aβalaɣa reβuelta]; Spanish: [ˈkepa ariθaβaˈlaɣa reˈβwelta]; born 3 October 1994) is a Spanish professional footballer who plays as a goalkeeper for Premier League club Chelsea and the Spain national team. He is sometimes referred to simply as Kepa.
|Full name||Kepa Arrizabalaga Revuelta|
|Date of birth||3 October 1994|
|Place of birth||Ondarroa, Spain|
|Height||1.86 m (6 ft 1 in)|
|2015||→ Ponferradina (loan)||20||(0)|
|2015–2016||→ Valladolid (loan)||39||(0)|
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 17:13, 17 October 2020 (UTC)|
‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 21:30, 7 October 2020 (UTC)
A Basque native, Arrizabalaga developed at Athletic Bilbao. He played his first professional games on loan at Ponferradina and Real Valladolid in Segunda División, before returning to Athletic, going on to appear in 54 matches across all competitions. In 2018, Arrizabalaga signed with Chelsea for €80 million, a world record transfer record fee for a goalkeeper.
Born in Ondarroa, Biscay, Basque Country, Arrizabalaga joined Athletic Bilbao's youth setup at Lezama in 2004, aged ten. He made his senior debut with the farm team in January 2012, in Tercera División.
On 5 May 2012, Arrizabalaga was called up to the main squad for a La Liga match against Getafe CF, but remained unused in the 0–0 draw at the San Mamés Stadium. He was also called up to pre-season in July, and on 23 September was also a substitute in another home game of the same outcome, against Málaga CF.
Arrizabalaga was promoted to the reserves in January 2013, to cover for injured Jon Ander Serantes. He made his debut for the B-side on 16 February 2013, keeping a clean sheet in a 1–0 win over UD Logroñés for the Segunda División B championship. On 3 March, he was sent off towards the end of a 3–1 home win over SD Amorebieta, as was teammate Jon García; in April he suffered a pubalgia, only returning to the fields in September.
Arrizabalaga appeared regularly for the B's after his return, but broke the first metacarpal of his right hand in January 2014, being sidelined for a month. On 11 March, Getafe submitted a loan request to the Lions for him, as a replacement to injured Miguel Ángel Moyá, but it was rejected a day later.
On 5 January 2015, Arrizabalaga was loaned to Segunda División's SD Ponferradina until June. He made his professional debut on the 11th, starting in a 1–1 home draw against Racing de Santander.
On 20 July 2015, Arrizabalaga moved to Real Valladolid also in the second tier, in a season-long loan deal. He played his first competitive game on 22 August, in a 0–1 loss at Córdoba CF, and missed only three matches as his team finished 16th.
After returning from loan, Arrizabalaga was included in the first team, initially as third-choice behind Gorka Iraizoz and Iago Herrerín. He made his debut in the top flight on 11 September 2016, starting in a 1–0 away win over Deportivo de La Coruña.
On 8 August 2018, Athletic Bilbao announced on their website that Arrizabalaga had paid his required release clause (€80 million / £71.6 million), making him the world's most expensive goalkeeper only weeks after the record was set by Alisson's transfer to Liverpool. Later that day, his move to Chelsea on a seven-year contract was confirmed, replacing Thibaut Courtois who departed for Real Madrid. He made his Premier League debut three days later in a 3–0 away win against Huddersfield Town, going on to keep six clean sheets in the team's 12-match unbeaten run in the league, before a 3–1 defeat at the hands of Tottenham Hotspur.
On 24 January 2019, in the second leg of the EFL Cup semi-final, Arrizabalaga saved a penalty from Tottenham's Lucas Moura in a 4–2 shootout win at Stamford Bridge, helping his team go through to the final.
On 24 February 2019, during the 2019 EFL Cup Final against Manchester City, with the match at 0–0 near the end of extra time, Maurizio Sarri called for Arrizabalaga to be substituted off for Willy Caballero for the upcoming penalty shootout; Sarri was concerned over his leg cramping a few minutes prior after making a diving save. However, Arrizabalaga refused to be substituted, gesticulating and remaining on the field. During the shootout, he saved one penalty as Chelsea lost 4–3. After the game, both Arrizabalaga and Sarri said that the situation was a misunderstanding, with Sarri incorrectly believing that Arrizabalaga was too injured with cramp to continue. Later on, Arrizabalaga met with Sarri and apologised to him and to the rest of the club. He was fined a week's worth of pay as a result of his actions, with Sarri leaving the decision of any further discipline up to the club. Arrizabalaga was dropped from the starting lineup for Caballero in Chelsea's next match, a Premier League game against Tottenham. He returned to the lineup for the following match.
On 9 May 2019, Arrizabalaga saved two penalties in the shootout at the end of the second leg of the UEFA Europa League semi-final against Eintracht Frankfurt to take Chelsea to the final, which they won 4–1 over Arsenal.
Throughout the season, Arrizabalaga struggled to stay in form, eventually being benched in favor of Willy Caballero in late January 2020 in a cup match against Hull City. Arrizabalaga was further not selected to the starting squad during the next four league matches and a Champions League match. He regained his starting spot on 4 March during the FA Cup fifth round against Liverpool; Chelsea went on to win the match 2–0. But he would find himself benched again to end the season, missing out on the team's run to the final of the FA Cup.
Arrizabalaga appeared for Chelsea in the opening game of the 2020–21 Premier League season against Brighton & Hove Albion. Chelsea won 3–1, but Arrizabalaga was criticised by Sky Sports pundits Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher for conceding Brighton's goal. Chelsea manager Frank Lampard publicly defended Arrizalabaga after the game, stating he was happy with his performance. Arrizabalaga was again judged to have made a significant error in the next match against Liverpool, after his pass went straight to Sadio Mané who collected the ball and scored; Chelsea went on to lose 2–0. Alan Shearer criticised Arrizabalaga on Match of the Day 2, arguing that Chelsea would be unable to win the league if he remained the first-choice goalkeeper. Lampard again defended his player and contended that Arrizabalaga needed to be supported, although he admitted the mistake had cost a goal. On 24 September, Chelsea signed Édouard Mendy from Stade Rennais and Arrizabalaga was relegated to the bench. He did not feature again until 17 October against Southampton where he made yet more goalkeeping blunders as the side drew 3–3.
After appearing for Spain's under-18s, Arrizabalaga was called up to the under-19 team for that year's UEFA European Championship. He was the starter during the tournament, as his side were crowned champions; highlights included a 3–3 semi-final success against France, where he saved two penalties in the shootout.
Arrizabalaga missed the 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup due to injury, being replaced in the tournament squad by Rubén Yáñez. On 8 November 2013 he was called up to the under-21 team, along with Athletic teammate Iker Muniain.
Arrizabalaga was called up to the senior side on 22 March 2017 ahead of a 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Israel and a friendly with France, as a late replacement for the injured Pepe Reina. He earned his first cap on 11 November of that year, playing the full 90 minutes in a 5–0 friendly win over Costa Rica in Málaga.
Style of play
As a prospect and young player, Kepa was regarded as one of the most promising young goalkeepers in Europe, known for his consistency, speed, agility, shot-stopping ability, and quick reflexes, which enables him to produce "brilliant saves." Kepa was also known for his footwork, distribution, and skill with the ball at his feet, as well as his ability to rush off his line, which allowed him to act as a sweeper keeper and play the ball out of the back in Maurizio Sarri's possession-based system that relied on a high back-line.
Former goalkeeper Manuel Almunia praised Kepa in 2017 as a goalkeeper with "good, strong feet" and "good movement," who was capable saving the ball with his feet, and also described him as a keeper who possessed "presence and character," also adding: "I'm sure he'll make a great keeper." In 2018, former Athletic Bilbao defender Andoni Goikoetxea described Kepa as being "good in the air," noting that "he jumps and catches the ball very well," while Richard Fitzpatrick of Bleacher Report described him as being "good at marshalling a defence."
Despite his potential, following a strong start to the first part of his debut season with Chelsea, Kepa came under criticism for his inconsistency and poor performances, as well as his low save-percentage. He ended the season strongly with a series of excellent performances, in particular en route to his club's Europa League victory. During his second season with Chelsea, he once again drew criticism over his shot-stopping ability and mistakes, which led him to be dropped by his Chelsea manager Frank Lampard for six matches. Kepa regained his starting position during the FA Cup tie against Liverpool later in the season. However, following more goalkeeping mistakes he was once again dropped for the final league match of the season and the FA Cup Final. He finished the season with the worst save percentage in Premier League history. Kepa attracted more criticism the following season for mistakes made in every match he played.
- As of match played 17 October 2020
|Club||Season||League||National Cup[a]||League Cup[b]||Europe||Other||Total|
|Bilbao Athletic||2012–13||Segunda División B||7||0||—||—||—||0||0||7||0|
|2013–14||Segunda División B||26||0||—||—||—||—||26||0|
|2014–15||Segunda División B||17||0||—||—||—||0||0||17||0|
|Athletic Bilbao||2014–15||La Liga||0||0||0||0||—||0||0||—||0||0|
|Ponferradina (loan)||2014–15||Segunda División||20||0||0||0||—||—||—||20||0|
|Valladolid (loan)||2015–16||Segunda División||39||0||1||0||—||—||—||40||0|
- As of match played 7 October 2020
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