On February 24th we saw Manchester City winning their 6th EFL Cup after a long match against Chelsea, which extended into penalty shootout due to no goals being scored in the first 90 minute and the added time. While we could expect the main topic in media to be the Manchester City’s 2nd EFL Cup in a row, it was instead an incident that happened on Chelsea’s side that proved to be much more interesting topic to talk about. We are, of course talking about the Kepa’s refusal to leave the pitch after the substitution was called.
A player-coach relationship is something that makes or breaks the performances of the club. Any fights between players and coaches usually result in the player leaving the club, which was the case with Ibrahimovic in Barcelona, Tevez in Manchester City and many more examples that can be found in the history of the football. That is why every time there is an argument between players and coaches, we tend to make speculations what is the future of that player at the club, how will the club reach and which club will that player end up in.
Those questions were understandably raised after the incident that happened in the match between Chelsea and Manchester City, when currently the most expensive goalkeeper in the world, Kepa Arrizabalaga refused to leave the pitch to be substituted. Media had a lot to say about it, and with that plenty of so-called football, experts gave their opinion on it. In this article, I will give my opinion and try to answer the question: What is Kepa’s future at the club?
Due to his actions, “Kepa” was already fined 1-week salary, which is about £190,000, but this alone does not make the whole incident go away. Yes, he will lose out on a huge sum of money, but at the end of the day, his actions are unacceptable and need to be addressed. What we saw is something that is rarely seen in the football world and it’s a clear indication of a player’s disrespect for the coach, or maybe even a sign of a coach losing his authority, but of course, like with many other things, there is another side of this story. There are a lot of speculations regarding the incident, some of which are far from the truth in my opinion, while others I believe show a real picture. Some simply look at it as a “misunderstanding”. At the end of the day, both player and coach said it was just a “misunderstanding” and it really does seem so if we take a closer look at what happened.
Kepa did receive medical help twice in the extra time, and understandably Maurizio Sarri wanted to replace him, to prevent any injury. But when Maurizio wanted to substitute the young goalkeeper, he refused to leave the pitch, because he felt like he was “ok” and ready to continue. But come on… who is here to make decisions. it’s not unusual for a player not wanting to leave the pitch after the coach calls for a substitution. But you know what? In most cases, they listen and leave the pitch. Yes, they might be angry and throw a bottle or kick something once they get the bench. But they listen and leave the pitch! Unlike Kepa who just refused to leave.
What made this incident grab all the spotlight is also the poor performance of Chelsea and speculations of Sarri at the exit doors due to that. With a lot of drama already surrounding the club, the disrespectful action from Kepa made headlines such as “Maurizio now also lost the respect of players” and similar, which I have my doubts about and here is why.
Do I believe this incident will leave a big impact on the team? No. It was just a childish and unprofessional action of Kepa, who should have listened to his coach. Sarri is paid to make decisions, while Kepa is paid to play football and listen to his coach. To be fair I find it silly there are that many eyes now turned towards Kepa and questions about his future. I’ll give you an unbiased answer to the questions. Will he get removed from the club? No. Will he get less play time or even get benched? Of course not. Chelsea did not pay 90 Mil€ for a “waterboy” who they need to win more games. And the lastly; did it affect the Kepa-Sarri relationship in a bad way? No, in fact, I believe it will improve it.
I have mentioned bad relations between players and coaches at the start of the article, in which case most of the players left the club. In Kepa-Sarri case there is no hatred nor bad relations. It was all just an unprofessional action from Kepa which as expected made Sarri extremely angry. However, they have talked it out and seemingly managed to resolve the issue between themselves. Kepa has learned his lesson and Sarri received his authority back. Nonetheless, this topic will surely remain a bone for media to chew on for a week or 2, but it’s really all an exaggeration. What I want to know is where was the captain? Where was Gary Cahill in this incident? If there is one situation where he would be needed its exactly this one. I’m just dumbfounded this question is not in the headlines instead.
At the end of the day, Kepa’s salary ( £190,000) which was taken from him went to Chelsea foundation. I guess we can say it all ended well.
Sports journalist, content writer and passionate football lover.