Lampard dismisses Kepa’s exit reports

LONDON (AFP) – Frank Lampard has dismissed reports Kepa Arrizabalaga wants to leave Chelsea after the world’s most expensive goalkeeper was dropped following a series of costly mistakes.

Blues boss Lampard has picked Willy Caballero instead of Kepa for Chelsea’s past five matches.

Kepa, who joined Chelsea from Athletic Bilbao for GBP72 million in 2018, is believed to be unhappy with the situation.

Reports said he feels Lampard has broken a verbal agreement to keep him as the first-choice keeper at Chelsea.

The 25-year-old is also said to be concerned his place in the Spain squad for Euro 2020 will be in doubt if he fails to get back into the Chelsea team soon.

Caballero, 38, has performed adequately following his promotion and is likely to remain in goal.But Lampard rejected suggestions Kepa could be headed for a Stamford Bridge exit at the end of the season, saying he could still force his way back into the starting lineup.

“I have read a bit of false, nonsense articles this week, people probably guessing on players,” Lampard told reporters on Friday.

“Every time a Chelsea player puts on the shirt they are in control of their destiny somewhat individually. We can’t always control collectively what the result will be.”

“All I am focussing on is game by game now to get the best finish to the season that we possibly can,” he added.

“Then of course there are decisions for the club ongoing in the summer, we have to look at that. But no way am I jumping forward to the future now and a lot of those reports are wrong.”

Kepa’s high-profile errors against Newcastle and Arsenal among others proved too much for Lampard to take.

It was reported Chelsea’s hierarchy were unhappy with Lampard’s decision to axe Kepa because it could damage his value if the club have to sell him in the close-season.

Asked about his relationship with his star, Lampard conceded it was hard to keep everyone happy, “My relationship is fine. Between player and manager I have around 20 players or so to keep happy, I can’t keep them all happy at the same time.

“All I expect is their professionalism in training, which Kepa has given. Every position is the same.”