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Chelsea should stick with Kepa - Bosnich

09:00 BST 29/03/2020
Kepa Arrizabalaga Chelsea 2019-20
Record signing has struggled for form this season but has been backed to succeed by ex-Blues keeper, who also played for Manchester United

Chelsea should stick by Kepa Arrizabalaga, says former Blues goalkeeper Mark Bosnich, who also believes that the Spaniard has shown his mettle since being dropped by Frank Lampard.

The Chelsea manager caused quite a stir towards the end of the winter period after dropping his club's record £71 million signing after a spell of bad form.

Willy Caballero came in for five games but Kepa returned for the last two matches ahead of a stoppage in play due to the coronavirus outbreak.

There are rumours that Chelsea could enter the transfer market to replace Kepa with Ajax's Andre Onana, AC Milan's Gianluigi Donnarumma and Bayern Munich's Manuel Neuer having all been linked with a move to Stamford Bridge.

However, Bosnich has seen enough promise in the 25-year-old - who still has more than five years left on his current contract - to get to grips with the Premier League after being delivered a wake-up call by Lampard.

"I was probably in the minority as a goalkeeper as I didn't mind competition for places," Bosnich told Goal. "I thought being a goalkeeper was the same as any position that if you are not playing well, then it is understandable that someone else comes in.

"With Kepa, it is a little bit different because of the price tag that surrounds him but it wasn't Frank Lampard who bought him. It was somebody else. I was impressed with the way he came back but he has been struggling a little bit this season.

"It is completely understandable as a manager if someone is not doing it for you at a big club you think somewhere else. There are stories around about Donnarumma or Onana but with any goalkeeper you talk about purchasing, especially from abroad, there's nothing like playing the position in England.

"There's more physical challenges on the crosses that you get in England than anywhere else in the world. You have to be careful. I am not privy to what's gone on behind the scenes but if a manager-player relationship breaks down, then that's a different matter.

"I just think it was down to his form which in terms of the standard when he first came, it hasn't been up to scratch this season. Frank was well within his rights to leave him out when he did but I thought he did well when he came back.

"I rate Kepa, I thought he was a superb shot-stopper with good agility and his kicking was okay for me. I think people make too much of his problems with distribution but the first job is to keep the ball out of the net. Kicking is a bonus.

"In terms of dominating his box, he is young and slight so it has taken time to get to grips with that. That's something they need to work on. For me, he has not been a disaster in any sense of the word. He has done okay so far.

"It is difficult to follow Petr Cech in their most successful era at the club. Then you have Thibaut Courtois, who was exceptional as well. I believe that Kepa has the ability given time to get to that level."

Bosnich had a troubled spell in west London after a failed drugs test saw him exit after an injury-hit spell upon joining from Manchester United.

The former Australia international got his life back on track but he struck up a friendship with a young Lampard in his time at the club. He thinks that Chelsea are in a good place under his former team-mate and believes the Blues will be ready to challenge for titles sooner than his other former club Man United.

"I was very close to Frank before what happened to me happened," he added. "He had fantastic footballing knowledge; he was one of the greatest midfielders in the world at the time.

"He won everything there was and he had a real advantage of playing under so many different great managers which gives you many different perspectives to learn off. He had the transfer ban which was overturned but then they didn't sign anyone in January.

"Using young players, he has done a fantastic job. Patience is like gold these days and I think Chelsea need some patience. Once he gets the chance to sign players he needs to add to his team and open up the cheque book, I believe he will be fine in terms of getting it right to challenge for titles. I don't think it will take as long to challenge than it will Manchester United.

"I don't think it will take as long for Chelsea because they didn't drop as dramatically as United since the Sir Alex days."

The Premier League remains in hiatus following the Covid-19 public health crisis and Chelsea are in fourth place with a three-point gap on United. Both clubs have nine games left to play in their run-in.