Kepa Arrizabalaga Sympathises with David De Gea After Taking Spain Spot

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistJune 11, 2019

MADRID, SPAIN - MARCH 27: Kepa Arrizabalaga and David De Gea (L) of Spain warm up during the international friendly match between Spain and Argentina at Wanda Metropolitano stadium on March 27, 2018 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)
Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Kepa Arrizabalaga has said he understands why Manchester United's David De Gea is sad after the Chelsea goalkeeper took his place in the Spain squad. 

De Gea has reigned as Spain's outright No. 1 choice in goal since 2016, but Spain manager Luis Enrique has started to pick Kepa ahead of the elder talent in recent matches.

The Blues keeper told reporters he was happy to have taken a more prominent role in the national team of late and sympathised with De Gea's plight, per Vaishali Bhardwaj of the Evening Standard:

"I'm going to continue working as I have until now, doing my best at my club to keep the confidence of the coach. Whoever plays will do very well.

"Of course I understand that David is sad, we all train to play and then it is the decision of the coach, and it is up to you to respond well.

"We are always surrounded by such controversies, but we must take it naturally. I'm happy to play, to help the team and to finish the season in the best way possible."

ESPN FC's Dermot Corrigan said that what first appeared to be an experiment now looked more settled after Kepa started in Monday's 3-0 UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying win over Sweden:

Dermot Corrigan @dermotmcorrigan

Kepa now started Spain's last three competitive games. Had seemed like maybe he was being given experience, but now looks very like De Gea is no longer first choice.

De Gea endured a difficult season at United as they finished fifth in the Premier League, with the Spaniard responsible for a series of out-of-character mistakes.

Former England and Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper Paul Robinson said during an appearance on beIN Sports that he felt Enrique made the correct decision dropping the 28-year-old:


David de Gea on the bench as Kepa Arrizabalaga starts in goal. @GKPaulRobinson doesn't blame the coach for making that call. #EURO2020 #EuropeanQualifiers #ESPSWE https://t.co/TT0jUZIbqE

Kepa, 24, moved to Stamford Bridge from Athletic Bilbao last summer and had some difficult moments during his first season at the club. However, the Blues rallied to finish third in the Premier League under Maurizio Sarri, as well as winning the UEFA Europa League crown.

It ended as a satisfactory first season on English shores, and Squawka illustrated how the Basque talent was superior to his Premier League rival in some key areas:

Squawka Football @Squawka

COMPARED: Kepa Arrizabalaga vs. David de Gea in the Premier League in 2018-19: Games played: 36-38 Save-percentage: 67.8%-69.0% Clean sheets: 14-7 Goals conceded per 90: 2.3-3.2 Saves per 90: 1.9-1.8 Errors leading to shots: 2-4 #AskSquawka @kweku_Tunechi https://t.co/Mfn93gWKkC

The 2019-20 season will be underway by the time Spain resume Euro 2020 qualification against Romania in September, by which point Kepa or De Gea could have significantly changed their circumstances.

Kepa is seen by many as the future of Spain's No. 1 jersey, but De Gea will be eager to take back control of the national team's starting role following a forgettable period in his career.