Kepa can become first choice again — Tuchel

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Chelsea boss, Thomas Tuchel is ready to give goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga his first start under him against Barnsley in the FA Cup, and a clean slate after his struggles under Frank Lampard over the last 18 months.

The £71 million signing from Athletic Club has been the subject of ridicule after a bad run of form saw him post the lowest save percentage in the Premier League last season. A series of errors also saw Chelsea lose patience in him and sign Edouard Mendy from Rennes in the summer as ‘competition’, but he quickly became the outright No 1.

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However, Tuchel wants his arrival to mark a turning point for the Spain international and has left open the possibility that he could become the first choice again.

“Absolutely, absolutely,” Tuchel replied when asked if he thinks Kepa can kickstart his Chelsea career. “He will play on Thursday; he will start. From outside, we had a view on his situation and saw some difficulties on the sporting side.

“Maybe also the circumstances of his transfer is weighing a little bit on his shoulders. That was the impression from outside.

“From inside, I see a nice guy. I see a nice personality, an open character, a hard-working guy, with obviously a lot of quality. So the good thing for him is that we start fresh, it’s a new start for him. I don’t have a history with him and I hope there will be no difficulties because I don’t see them coming.

“He’s a clear guy, an open guy. He does everything to impress in training. I’m happy and I feel all three goalkeepers in a good atmosphere, they are competitors to each other, it’s a very special position in football of course, it’s a very decisive position, it has its own rules.

“If you make mistakes everybody sees them and talks about them. So you need a lot of mental strength and quality and I see this in all three goalkeepers. Kepa has a chance tomorrow and I hope he can show what he shows in training.

“We didn’t make a change in the first game and Edou [Mendy] was strong in the moment. So tomorrow is an opportunity to show and hopefully, it’s very important for me to say this, he doesn’t want to overachieve. I want him to do a normal match tomorrow.

“He does not have to show me or anybody else tomorrow that he is ready to be Spain’s No 1 in the summer. He just has to show his quality. Not more or less. So we have to manage expectations because I don’t expect him to score and keep a clean sheet.

“I just want him to help us with his quality and he gives a solid performance to help the team. He has big goals to achieve and personal ambition. This is normal; it’s why he’s here.”