Kepa praises Chelsea for taking a bet on him
August 10 2018 12:35 AM
Kepa Arrizabalaga became the most expensive goalkeeper in history after Chelsea paid £71.6mn to Athletic Bilbao for the Spaniard. (AFP)

By Jacob Steinberg/The Guardian

Kepa Arrizabalaga has said he does not feel any pressure after becoming the world’s most expensive goalkeeper and he believes Chelsea have made a “great bet” after signing him for £71.6mn. The fee for Kepa surpasses the £66.9mn paid by Liverpool to Roma for Alisson in July but the 23-year-old Spaniard is confident he will prove a successful replacement for Thibaut Courtois after joining from Athletic Bilbao.
“In terms of being the most expensive keeper in the world, it’s something I don’t think about,” Kepa said. “I’m just going to be myself and try to give my best to the club. “I don’t really think about the price. It is not something I have in my mind. I just think Chelsea have made a great bet in taking me. I will do everything I can to repay the trust they have put in me.
“I don’t think there will be additional pressure. The only pressure I experience is the pressure I put on myself. I am a player who demands a lot from myself, so I will just try to give everything I can to the team.”
Chelsea had to move quickly to find a goalkeeper after it became clear Courtois was determined to force through a £35mn move to Real Madrid. Kepa signed a seven-year deal on Wednesday and could make his debut in tomorrow’s Premier League game at Huddersfield.
Kepa was close to joining Real for £17.9mn in January, only for Zinedine Zidane to cancel the deal because he felt that signing a goalkeeper during the season would be disruptive. Yet the Spain international said he was not disappointed his move to the Bernabéu fell through; nor did he fear that allowing his contract with Athletic to contain a £71.9mn release clause would price him out of the market this summer.
The reward for his patience came when Chelsea decided to meet Athletic’s demands after agreeing to let Courtois join Real. Kepa, who has been capped once by Spain, revealed he first became aware of interest from Stamford Bridge last month and insisted he is not concerned about the physicality of English football. 
“Some players take more time to adapt than others,” he said. “I just hope I can adjust and adapt as soon as possible but we are all different. I realise the game is different in England but it is also true that a lot of Spanish players already play in the Premier League and they have given me fantastic references about playing here.
It helps that Kepa has been with Cesar Azpilicueta and Alvaro Morata on international duty. “I knew some of the players in the current team because I had played with them in the Spanish national team, even in the World Cup,” he said. “They are all very comfortable at the club and they have encouraged me to make the move and have an international experience.”
As well as showing he is capable of dominating his area and making spectacular saves, playing for Maurizio Sarri means Kepa will have to show he is adept with the ball at his feet. “I think I will be able to adapt,” he said. “I find Sarri’s style and ideas very attractive.
“I have references about him from players like Pepe Reina, who knows him from Napoli. He was very happy with him. On the other hand, Maurizio’s style is not unlike the style used by the Spanish national team, where I have played for many years. I don’t think it will be a problem.”

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