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Kepa Arrizabalaga

BIOGRAPHY

Kepa Arrizabalaga signed for Chelsea from Athletic Bilbao in August 2018.

Quick and agile, Kepa possesses fantastic reflexes and has developed his all-round game since he established himself as Athletic Bilbao’s first-choice ‘keeper. A great shot-stopper, he is confident with the ball at his feet and capable of playing out from the back, even under pressure.

Kepa's performances for the Blues have also earned him regular playing time for Spain, the country of his birth in October 1994.

2018/19

The Spanish international goalkeeper signed a seven-year contract at Stamford Bridge and ended his first season with silverware as we beat Arsenal in the Europa League final. He played 54 games in all competitions, including 36 in the Premier League. In total he kept an impressive 23 clean sheets as he quickly adapted to the rigours of English football.

Kepa made his debut for the Blues just a few days after signing in our opening-day win at Huddersfield in August. The keeper looked assured when called into action and kept a clean sheet in a 3-0 victory.

He was an ever-present in the Premier League during the first half of the 2018/19 season and kept nine clean sheets. After Christmas we reached the Carabao Cup final with Kepa starring in the penalty shoot-out success over Tottenham in the semis, a feat he would repeat at the same stage of the Europa League against Eintracht Frankfurt when he decisively kept out two penalties to send us to Baku.

Kepa's impressive form towards the finale of our domestic campaign played an important role in securing a third-placed Premier League finish. 

2019/20

The arrival of Frank Lampard in the summer of 2019 did nothing to diminish Kepa's standing as our number one and he started the first 24 Premier League games under the new boss. However, the number of goals conceded by the team throughout the season drew scrutiny and, in the spring, the Spaniard sat out five consecutive matches as Willy Caballero's form earned him a run between the posts.

Yet Kepa was at his best in our FA Cup victory over Liverpool in early March, our penultimate game before the unprecedented football pause, producing one remarkable triple save to keep the Reds at bay in a 2-0 victory at the Bridge. He kept another clean sheet five days later in a home league win over Everton and retained his starting spot when the season restarted in June but missed the final three games of the campaign, including the FA Cup final.

Pre-Chelsea

Born in Ondarroa, a Basque seaside town, Kepa joined the Athletic academy at the age of nine and after gaining experience at their fourth-tier feeder club Basconia, he appeared regularly for Bilbao’s B-team, earning international recognition at youth level due to the quality of his displays.

Kepa was loaned to SD Ponferradina, a Spanish second division side, in January 2015 and having made his debut against Racing Santander, he started on a regular basis, keeping seven clean sheets in the process as the team missed out on the play-offs by just one point. He established himself in another second-tier loan move with Real Valladolid the next season, before returning to Bilbao for the 2016/17 campaign.

Although not initially viewed as number one, he made his first appearance in an away game at Deportivo La Coruna, keeping a clean sheet in a 1-0 win. He went on to make over 20 appearances throughout a season which ended with him representing Spain at the European Under-21 Championship.

In the season prior to his switch to London, Kepa’s consistently impressive displays earned him regular plaudits inside and outside the club. He saved two of the three penalties he faced, as well as making the third-highest number of saves in the Spanish top flight and successfully executing more long-range passes – 368 – than any other goalkeeper in La Liga.

International

Kepa's impressive form at club level for Athletic Bilbao led to a debut for the senior Spain side, which came in a 5-0 win over Costa Rica in November 2017. He was duly named in the 23-man squad for the World Cup in Russia, and by 2019 was a regular between the posts for his country.

After keeping a clean sheet in his maiden European Championship qualifying appearance in March 2019 in a 2-0 win over Malta, Kepa featured in both June internationals that summer and has shared glove duties with David de Gea since.