Chelsea's Kepa Arrizabalaga Discusses Record Transfer Fee, David De Gea

Gianni Verschueren@ReverschPassFeatured ColumnistDecember 29, 2018

Chelsea's Kepa Arrizabalaga during the English Premier League soccer match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Chelsea at the Molineux Stadium in Wolverhampton, England, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2018. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)
Rui Vieira/Associated Press

Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga has said his world-record transfer fee is not a point of focus for him, and he is supportive of national team-mate David De Gea, even if he wants to pass him and earn Spain's top spot.

Per Sky Sports, the Blues made the former Athletic Bilbao man the most expensive goalkeeper in the world by triggering his £71.6 million buyout clause in the summer.

According to Arrizabalaga that fee is a reflection of the market:

"Obviously the price was very high—£71m is a lot of money.

"I'm aware of this, but given the transfer market situation and how things are going, it is normal, so I don't need to focus on the value of the transfer.

"I do need to focus on playing my football and what's happening on the pitch rather than off it... I want to be myself and not think about it.

"I'm here now playing for Chelsea. I chose to leave my home at Athletic Bilbao and it was an important step in my career.

"I wouldn't call it pressure [replacing Courtois], I would just say it is how the transfer market goes. He went and I came in, and I'm not one to focus on the comings and going."

WATFORD, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 26:  Kepa Arrizabalaga of Chelsea stretches during the Premier League match between Watford FC and Chelsea FC at Vicarage Road on December 26, 2018 in Watford, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)
Warren Little/Getty Images

Manchester United's David De Gea remains Spain's No. 1 despite struggles at the World Cup and since, but Arrizabalaga remains supportive of him while maintaining hope he can become the starter:

"I'm aware that De Gea is a good goalkeeper. He's had a great career, and he's been great over a number of years.

"People were speaking at the World Cup about this situation, but I need to support whoever is playing, and De Gea played in the World Cup, he was playing before then as well.

"Everyone wants to play, and it's about making the manager's decision hard. As for me, I'm calm in the situation that I'm in, and I know with effort, I can get there."

The 24-year-old was seen as one of the top talents at the position and one of the best all-round goalkeepers in Spain last year.

He has been solid in his first season in England so far, keeping up with some other big-money stoppers in terms of clean sheets:

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His distribution and efforts on incoming crosses have been good, but his calling card remains his shot-stopping. A gifted athlete, Arrizabalaga routinely makes highlight-reel saves look easy.

He put his talents on full display in his first training session with the Blues:

The pressure was always going to be high on Arrizabalaga due to his transfer fee―higher than the previous record set by Alisson Becker just weeks before―and the man he replaced.

Thibaut Courtois won the World Cup's Golden Glove and was voted The Best FIFA Goalkeeper after a great year, and he moved to Real Madrid in the summer. Arrizabalaga had previously been linked to Los Blancos before renewing his Athletic contract, per Sky Sports.

So far, Chelsea fans haven't missed the Belgian, who struggled in his first months in the Spanish capital but has been in fine form of late.

Arrizabalaga has proved a worthy replacement, and with ample room for growth, he could well pass De Gea at some point in the future.