Former Chelsea man expects ‘hard’ time for star under Lampard after criticising boss

Ciaran McCarthy
Kepa Arrizabalaga, Chelsea, February 2023
Kepa stretching ahead of Chelsea game

Former Chelsea player Mario Melchiot has revealed he believes Kepa Arrizabalaga will find it “hard” to work with Frank Lampard after criticising him in the media.

Kepa was the first-choice option in goal during Lampard’s first season at Chelsea. Indeed, the Spaniard made 33 league appearances as the Blues finished fourth.

Beyond that, his role dwindled, before the manager was sacked, with Chelsea having not made much progress. For the 2020/21 and 2021/22 seasons, Kepa mostly sat behind Edouard Mendy.

This season, the Spaniard has taken back his role as no.1. Indeed, of the 29 Premier League games the Blues have played, he’s started on 21 occasions, including the last 15 games on the bounce.

The return of Lampard could see his role thrown in the air, though. Indeed, he had a tumultuous time under the English boss previously, playing a lot under him to start with and then being relegated to the bench.

However, the main reason that his role could now change will be his comments on Lampard.

Indeed, he called the manager’s game plan “not so elaborate”, when speaking to Marca last year. Former Blues man Melchiot thinks those comments could come back to bite him.

“You know how hard it will be for Kepa to be in the dressing room?” he told ESPNFC.

“You had a go at your coach and that coach comes back and now you have to sit with him. Oh my God… I don’t know what Kepa is going to do.

“I want to give advice to any footballer: never talk about your coach in public, always do it directly. You might meet him again.”

Indeed, while Kepa was not to know Lampard would return to manage him, there aren’t many positives to be taken from the situation. Given there’s another quality goalkeeper in the ranks in Mendy, Lampard could opt to use him instead of Kepa.

Perhaps he believes Mendy is a better goalkeeper anyway. However, were Kepa to be dropped after being the no.1 for much of the season, that he previously slated his manager’s coaching methods cannot have helped matters.

He’ll hope that Lampard doesn’t hold a grudge, and makes the right choice for footballing reasons. With that being said, there’s no guarantee that’d see him starting anyway, after the manager dropped him during his previous stint at the club.

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