Frank Lampard says he’s not under “pressure” to play Kepa and has admitted that Edouard Mendy is now a “permanent fixture” in the net after his bright start to life at Chelsea. Chelsea spent a then-club record fee of £71 million ($95m) to sign Kepa from Athletic Club in the summer of 2018, having seen previous number one Thibaut Courtois complete his own big-money move to Real Madrid.
The Spanish goalkeeper has since struggled to live up to his hefty price tag and saw his position come under threat for the first time under Frank Lampard last season due to his erratic form between the sticks.
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The Blues boss dropped Kepa for veteran shot-stopper Willy Caballero on several occasions before the club decided to bring in a new keeper in the summer transfer window. Edouard Mendy was drafted in from Rennes for £22m ($29m) in September, and the Senegalese star has quickly made the first-choice keeper slot at Stamford Bridge his own.
Mendy has started Chelsea’s last six Premier League games, while Kepa has had to make do with the odd appearance in the Champions League after losing his place. Lampard has dismissed any suggestion that the 26-year-old will eventually be restored to his line-up because of how much the club invested in his talent two years ago, insisting he picks his team based on form rather than status.
He also revealed that Kepa will return to his starting XI for the Blues’ final Champions League group-stage outing against Krasnodar on Tuesday, telling a press conference: “There’s no pressure [to pick Kepa], and I am not saying it is being spoken about, it is to win games.
“I do that through selections game-by-game and Mendy, of course, has made himself a permanent fixture at this point. “The pressure to win games means I pick people to inform whether it is a striker, winger or goalkeeper, whoever. At the same time, the game tomorrow is a chance to give Edouard a rest and give Kepa a game. “He is training well and he deserves it.”
Asked how Kepa has reacted to the extra competition for places at the Bridge following Mendy’s arrival, Lampard responded: “How he has been with Edouard is very supportive with him. I see that and I see it from afar sometimes as they work together with Hilario [goalkeeper coach] a lot. Article continues below
“What I do see when I watch from afar and we are in hotel rooms a lot at the moment is that he is someone who is supporting him quietly, which is right. “He is also training well which is the main thing that I look at because the training particularly for goalkeepers, because of the one-on-one training nature, there can’t be one that drops their level. “They have to all push each other and I see that in the group and I am very pleased with that from Kepa. His reaction has been spot on.”